Friday, March 22, 2013

All-Academic team honored, CTCs shine at open house; revenue flat

The last few days have been busy for CTCs! News about the state revenue forecast, committee hearings focusing on tuition and high school equivalency exam fees; and events honoring students and CTC programs have resulted in a bright spotlight on community and technical colleges this week.

Revenue and caseload forecast
The revenue forecast Wednesday was relatively good news, all things considered. It is basically flat; up $59 million this biennium, down $19 million next, for a net increase of $40 million.

 "Flat is the new up when it comes to forecasts," said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, lead budget writer for the House. "This forecast takes a bad problem and doesn't make it worse."

The bad news came last week in the caseload forecast. Caseload costs are up $300 million. Additionally, a recent court decision has added $160 million in costs to the balance sheet.

OFM is characterizing the budget shortfall faced by the Legislature to be $500 million worse than Governor Gregoire solved in her budget proposal last December.

The Senate is expected to release a budget proposal as early as late next week.

Committee hears CTC budget, tuition process
The House Higher Education Committee on Wednesday heard testimony about the unique budget and tuition-setting processes for the state's community and technical college system.

Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, gave an overview of how the State Board creates a budget in partnership with the entire CTC system. "[The SBCTC has] a system-wide approach to the budget…the Legislature appropriates [funding for] the entire community and technical college system," Brown said. "We gather input from everywhere – we start with students and we end with students … we do this all before we submit [our budget request] to the Governor in September."

Nick Lutes, SBCTC operating budget director, provided committee members with an historical overview of tuition rates at CTCs. Lutes said, "After double-digit tuition increases, [Washington has] jumped above the national average, we're currently 14th [in the nation]."

Dr. Elizabeth Chen, State Board member, explained the nine-member state board's role in determining tuition increases. "Setting tuition is very important and is the most difficult decision to make… [State board members] seek input from our students, presidents, and trustees," Chen said. She also shared with committee members that with nearly half of CTC students using some form of financial aid, even a slight change in tuition can make a dramatic difference in obtaining a degree or certificate.
Top two-year college students honored
More than 300 people gathered Thursday at South Puget Sound Community College to honor the 2013 All-Washington Academic Team.

For the 18th year, the ceremony provided an opportunity for community and technical college students to be recognized for their academic achievements and community involvement.

Governor Jay Inslee was on hand to praise the team members and their achievements.
"You can go the length and breadth of the state of Washington; we have a lot of amazing people doing amazing things. They're developing the world's best software, they're world-class aerospace engineers. But the single most inspiring story in the State of Washington today is about our community and technical colleges," he said.

"These are the places where people come from all walks of life, at all times during their lives, with all kinds of hopes and aspirations, and overcome all kinds of personal barriers…to find a way to fulfill their personal ambitions. There's nothing else we do that gives more bang for the buck, than community and technical colleges. And the facts bear that out."

This year's academic team was made up of 65 students representing the 34 colleges.

Each team member received a $500 scholarship from KeyBank of Washington.

The top award — the 2013 New Century Scholar award of $2,000 — went to Heike Rodriguez,North Seattle Community College.
Second ranked team member, Jemimah Kamau, Highline Community College, received a $1,000 Trustee Scholarship from the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges (TACTC).
Three students tied for a $1,000 TACTC Scholarship: David Vo, South Puget Sound Community College; Koshin Ono, Peninsula College; and Nikole Wyles, Wenatchee Valley College.

Vo was also named a Coca-Cola Silver Scholar (one of just 50 nationwide) and received an additional $1,250 from Coca-Cola.

Nikole Wyles, Wenatchee Valley College, and Theresa Carr, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, were both named Coca-Cola Bronze Scholars (two of only 50 nationwide) and each receives an additional $1,000 from Coca-Cola.

Eight members of the team received a $250 scholarship from the Washington State Employees Credit Union: Theresa Carr, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom; Delanie Willows, Centralia College; Cynthia Beatty, Big Bend Community College; Hatha Dam, Bellevue College; Maryann Hirning, Lower Columbia College; Kathryn Gonzalez, Clark College; Chun Hei Tam, Tacoma Community College; and Amy Hooper, Spokane Falls Community College.

In addition, every state public and private four-year baccalaureate institution and City University offered scholarships to attend their institutions.
Replacing GED in statute
SHB 1686, replacing the trademarked term GED with "high school equivalency" in statute, was heard in the Senate Higher Education Committee on Thursday. Prime sponsor Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, explained the meaning behind the legislation. "The purpose of the bill is to re-label our high school equivalency test from GED to keep in time with the commercial times… there will be at least a couple of alternatives we can look at in a year or two."
Jacquie Armstrong, SBCTC policy associate, testified in support of the bill, explaining the need to keep costs down for students and increase flexibility for alternative exams. "[This bill] allows [the SBCTC] to consider alternative tests… we want the opportunity for our students and citizens to have…the most cost effective, most relevant, highest quality test [available]."
Other organizations signing in to support the bill included the Department of Early Learning and the Workforce Board.
Open house draws a crowd
Last night's Legislative Open House gave presidents, trustees, staff, and students an opportunity to visit with legislators an opportunity.
Hosted by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges, and Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges, the event showcased how Washington CTCs contribute to economic prosperity and help put people to work.
Guests participated in interactive demonstrations featuring in-demand STEM-related programs and interacted with faculty and students.
Featured programs:
● Computer-Numerically-Controlled Precision Machining – Lake Washington Institute for Technology
● Dental Hygiene – Yakima Valley Community College
● Instrumentation Technology – Bellingham Technical College
● Nursing/Allied Health – South Seattle Community College
● Smart Grid Energy Efficiency – Centralia College, Grays Harbor College, Pacific Northwest Center of Excellence for Clean Energy, Spokane Institute for Extended Learning, Wenatchee Valley College
● Robotics and Electronics – Edmonds Community College
Guests sampled student-created wines and chocolates presented by:
College Cellars of Walla Walla Community College, Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle Community College
Bellingham Technical College, Lake Washington Institute for Technology, South Seattle Community College culinary arts programs