Saturday, January 25, 2014

CTCs honor students, advocate for system initiatives during busy second week of session

The Legislature’s second week ended with a flurry of activity around higher education issues and a near record number of bills introduced. Similar to last week, community and technical colleges were in the spotlight with a number of issues: performance funding, financial aid, dual credit programs, system funding, and many others.

Highlights below include summaries of our annual trustee winter conference and Transforming Lives event, presentations in committee work sessions, testimony on proposed legislation, and action taken on bills that impact the CTC system.

Trustees gather for conference, name Transforming Lives award winners

The Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges (TACTC) held its annual two-day Legislative Contact Conference in Olympia to honor this year’s Transforming Lives award winners and to hear from legislators about higher education issues. A number of legislators spoke at the event on Monday, Jan. 20, starting with Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, and Senate Higher Education Committee chair.

Sen. Bailey acknowledged that higher education has been neglected in recent years and said legislators are paying attention to the needs of community and technical colleges. She also thanked trustees for their important role as volunteers, serving colleges and communities with their diverse perspectives, business expertise, and insights to student success.

“We know higher education is a stepping stone to a good career,” Bailey said. “We need to make sure our students have access to one of the best education systems in the nation to prepare them to be successful, productive, and drive the state’s economy.”

Majority Floor Leader Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, said the decision to freeze tuition in the 2013-2015 operating budget marks a crucial shift in the Legislature’s approach to funding higher education. Lawmakers too often divert money from higher education and filled the gap with tuition increases that burden students who are trying to move ahead in life, he said.

“What we’re doing down here in the Legislature, I think, is a fundamental re-shift away from using tuition as a backdoor tax increase to pay for other state spending,” he said. “I hope that we have realized that the organizations that you represent in this room are the absolute keys to our economic recovery and the absolute keys to the success of our state in the long run.”

Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and House Higher Education Committee chair, called upon the higher education community to accomplish three goals to set the stage for greater public support in 2015: turn the Washington Student Achievement Council’s Roadmap into actionable items, form an education advocacy network, and rethink student financial aid “from end to end.”

Without additional investments in higher education, he said, “…our state is going to continue to decline in educational attainment, meaning our state is going to decline. We cannot have that. We’ve got to turn it around now.”

Lawmakers focus on performance funding

David Prince, SBCTC research director, highlighted the community and technical college system’s nationally recognized Student Achievement Initiative (SAI) during a work session before the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Under SAI – the system’s performance-based funding approach – colleges earn a portion of their funding based on results, not just enrollments. Points, and funding, are awarded when students reach key academic achievement points that propel them toward certificates, degrees and transfers. The number of degrees and certificates completed at Washington’s community and technical colleges increased by 46 percent from 2007-2008 to 2011-2012.

A new version of SAI launched this year places a new emphasis on student retention and completion.

The extraordinary thing about the SAI, Prince said, is that it measures student progress incrementally as students move through college.

“The performance measures recognize all of the missions within the community college system: adult basic education, transfer education, professional-technical education. We take that all into account in one measurement system,” Prince said. Through SAI, colleges learn “Here’s where your students were in the beginning of the year, here’s what’s happening to them quarter-by-quarter, here’s where you know they need to move next.”

Prince pointed to innovative approaches that are improving student success at Bellingham Technical College, Tacoma Community College, and Walla Walla Community College.

The Student Achievement Initiative was also the highlight of a Senate Higher Education Committee work session on Thursday, Jan. 23.

Link to TVW House testimony (begins at 27:55) and link to SBCTC presentation.

Link to TVW Senate testimony (begins at 17:45) and link to SBCTC presentation.

Testimony supports Governor’s capital budget proposal

Wayne Doty, SBCTC capital budget director, testified in favor of the Governor’s supplemental capital budget proposal before the House Capital Budget Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Contained in HB 2224, the proposal includes:

·         A $3.162 million new appropriation for the design phase of the Centralia College Student Services building.

·         Authority to finance $3 million for the Lower Columbia Student Housing using local funds.

·         Authority to finance $3 million for the Lower Columbia Main Building renovation using local funds.

The proposal does not provide the $53 million in construction funding requested for the Olympic College Instruction Center.

Jim Walton, Centralia College president, said the proposal would allow the college to finish redesigning its aging and overcrowded Student Services Building and replace parking that the building will ultimately displace. “Parking is an issue because we’re in the middle of a residential district and our building will displace one of our largest parking lots. The City of Centralia is so concerned that they issued us a letter saying that they would not issue us a building permit until we take care of this issue,” he said.

Chris Bailey, Lower Columbia College president, said the proposal gives the college permission to finance two projects using local funds: purchase student housing adjacent to the campus, and convert underused space in the oldest building for much-needed math classrooms. “These classrooms are part of our STEM work that is in great demand,” he said.

David Mitchell, Olympic College president, pointed out that the Olympic College Instruction Center was the only project on the system’s capital request list not funded in the budget proposal. “The system strongly recommends that this be in the budget. The project has been funded for design. It’s replacing an old building that has seismic problems, it’s not accessible, it doesn’t meet ADA standards, and mechanical and electrical systems have run their useful life.”

Link to TVW testimony (begins at 50:10).

Institutional funding put to good use for students

Students have benefitted greatly from $18.5 million in new, flexible funding authorized in the 2013-2015 operating budget, according to testimony at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Rich Cummins, Columbia Basin College president, said the funding creates a “virtuous circle” of improved student services and retention. “The Legislature’s foresight has already provided a backbone for improved strategies for attracting and retaining our community’s future – home-grown, successful students who add great value to our quality of life,” he said.

David Mitchell, Olympic College president, said the new investment has been put to good use in student support services.

Nick Lutes, SBCTC operating budget director, gave a historical funding perspective. The 2013-2015 annual state appropriations for the community and technical college system are 19 percent lower than the “high water mark” of FY 2009 (23 percent lower when adjusted for inflation). Tuition increases and other resources have helped fill the void, but have placed a burden on students. Community and technical college students now pay 35 percent of their higher education, up from 24 percent in FY 2009.

Link to TVW testimony (CTC speakers not featured because video ends early).

Link to SBCTC presentation.


Hundreds of bills have been introduced by legislators over the last week. With the first cutoff date fast approaching, the Legislature has begun to take action on a number of these proposals that impact CTCs.

House hears dual credit, Common Core, BAS degrees, and cosmetology bills

Scott Copeland, SBCTC policy associate, testified in support of HB 2285 and HB 2396 during the Jan. 22 House Higher Education Committee hearing. HB 2285 requires the WA Student Achievement Council to study dual credit programs and recommend improvements to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2014. HB 2396 aims to increase the number of underrepresented students who participate in Running Start. Local school districts are required to create enrollment plans, with information from local CTCs, to increase participation rates among these students.

Link to TVW testimony (begins at 1:04).

During a Jan. 24 House Higher Education Committee hearing, Bill Moore, SBCTC Core to College Alignment director, testified in support of HB 2383 that requires ongoing alignment of the K-12 Common Core with higher education institutions. Education agencies are required to submit information to the WA Student Achievement Council to roll into a final report due to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2014.

“We’ve been working very hard as a system to improve the issues around remediation and precollege programs in order to accelerate student progress to and through college level coursework,” Moore said.

Link to TVW testimony (begins at 23:00).

During the same hearing, Jim Walton, Centralia College president, Stu Halsan, Centralia College trustee, Jan Yoshiwara, SBCTC Education Services deputy director, and Paul Bell, Bellevue College student, testified in support of HB 2398 allowing CTCs to award honorary BAS degrees.

Halsan testified about the great opportunity for Centralia and other CTCs to grant applied baccalaureate degrees and to honor those active with their local college. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us and for people who are in rural areas to secure four-year degrees. We very much would encourage the Legislature to move this bill forward,” Halsan said.

Walton explained how Centralia College has awarded honorary associate degrees, but that allowing honorary BAS degrees would further demonstrate the important role community members play in the success of their local college. “We have offered honorary associate degrees over time and because of the fact that we now have a very successful applied science degree, we would like the ability to honor individuals who have dedicated themselves to Centralia College by offering them an honorary degree,” Walton said.

Yoshiwara testified that CTCs have seen a spike in the number of BAS degrees offered with many more in the pipeline. “We are very pleased to support HB 2398. We’ve had exponential growth in the number of programs and the number of colleges offering applied baccalaureate degree opportunities for their technical or associate degree graduates. The program is truly meeting the goals you outlined in the enabling legislation,” Yoshiwara said.

Bell offered student support for the bill explaining this is another way CTCs are responding to emerging needs. “[HB 2398] provides institutions like mine…awarding their highest honors in ways they deem appropriate, on an institution basis.”

Link to TVW testimony (begins at 53:33).

On Jan. 24, the House Business and Financial Services Committee heard a substitute to HB 2512 that creates a hair design license impacting cosmetology training programs at our colleges across the state. Tiffany Merkel, SBCTC program administrator, Alison Grazzini Smith, SBCTC legislative director, Tina Evans, Everett Community College faculty, and Sylvia Garcia, Spokane Community College faculty testified in support of the substitute bill.

Link to TVW testimony (begins at 46:22).

House passes efficiency, faculty increment bills

ESHB 1769, introduced last session by Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, passed the House 97-0 (1 excused). Aimed at increasing efficiency in higher education, this bill increases the threshold for capital predesign from $5 million to $10 million and increases the maximum value for a minor works project from $2 million to $5 million.

ESHB 1769 will be referred to a Senate committee.

HB 1348, introduced last session by Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, passed the House 63-34 (1 excused). This bill requires community and technical colleges to provide step increases or increments as they are negotiated in local agreements, even when the amount exceeds the compensation provided by the Legislature in the state budget. Under existing law, salary increases cannot exceed the amount set in the state budget.

HB 1348 has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

Session cutoff dates

Mandated cutoff dates determine which bills will continue through the legislative process. These dates can impact legislative work – including a flurry of committee hearings – and are important to note. This year, these dates are:

·         Feb. 7: policy committee cutoff – bills in policy committees must receive a hearing and be passed.

·         Feb. 11: fiscal committee cutoff – bills in fiscal committees must receive a hearing and be passed.

·         Feb. 18: house of origin cutoff (5pm) – bills in their original chamber must be passed.

·         Feb. 28: policy committee cutoff – bills in opposite house policy committees must receive a hearing and be passed.

·         March 3: fiscal committee cutoff – bills in opposite house fiscal committees must receive and hearing and be passed.

·         March 7: opposite house cutoff (5pm) – bills in the opposite chamber must be passed.

·         March 13: Sine Die – last day of the regular session.

Session resources

SBCTC Government Relations provides updated legislative resources throughout session:

·         Bill Watch Listimportant bills being considered that may have significant impact on the CTC system.

·         Bill Status Report – all bills being tracked by SBCTC staff during session.

·         Weekly Hearing Scheduleschedule of weekly hearings where CTCs are testifying and/or monitoring bills.

·         Legislator informationcontact information for legislators organized by college district, committee, caucus, etc.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Curtain opens on 2014 session

Week one of the 60-day legislative session has come to a close and legislators have been busy! Scheduled to end March 13, this year’s legislative session is especially busy given the constricted timeline to pass bills, a possible supplemental budget, and debate over critical statewide issues. Examples include raising the state’s minimum wage, providing a cost-of-living increase to teachers, funding statewide transportation projects, and many others.

The community and technical college system continues to be well represented in Olympia. This week, CTCs presented in committee hearings, testified on proposed bills, and met with legislators to support our 2014 legislative session priorities. Discussion ranged from student demographic data, the Governor’s proposed supplemental budget, services for student veterans, and long-term goals for the CTC system.

Below are highlights from week one…

Student demographics and workforce training

While skill gaps are a hot topic of conversation, another gap is forming in Washington: a population gap. That was the message shared with the House Higher Education Committee during a work session on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Over the next 20 years, population growth among students straight out of high school – traditionally considered the key source for enrollments – will slow, while the demand for degree-production will grow. Simply put: There won’t be enough high school graduates to meet the higher-education needs of the future workforce. Washington will need to fill the gap with older adults – a faster growing population that is burgeoning in areas of the state with less educational attainment and more diversity. These were among the findings presented by David Prince, SBCTC research director.

“High school graduation classes peaked in 2010 and they won’t peak again until 2027,” Prince said. “Growth is mostly coming from older students and nontraditional students coming back to college or going to college for the first time [and] from areas with the lowest educational attainment.”

Jan Yoshiwara, SBCTC deputy director for education services, discussed the implications for community and technical colleges.

“What we need to think about is how to tap into, in a bigger way, higher education participation for people who have been out of school for a while,” she said. “Older students are overwhelmingly work oriented. They want jobs. And a portion of them need basic skills work or some remediation to get up to college level skills.”

According to Yoshiwara, changing demographics may require a new look at funding.

“We have to think about how this is going to affect our funding, because workforce training is the most expensive stuff that we do. If our shift in…the kinds of programs we deliver lean more heavily toward the more expensive programs – which is what we need to do – then we need to think about how we’re going to finance that.”

Yoshiwara said older students are less patient; they want to get in, get their skills, graduate, and land a job. Community and technical colleges are responding with acceleration strategies, e-learning, competency-based education and integrated studies like I-BEST, which blend basic skills and workforce training in the same class so people achieve multiple levels of education simultaneously rather than sequentially.

Link to SBCTC presentation.

Link to testimony.

Veterans’ services and the state’s workforce system

Helping veterans transition back into the workforce was the focus of a Senate Higher Education Committee work session on Thursday, Jan. 16.

Marie Bruin, SBCTC workforce policy associate, discussed the agency’s role with the Washington State Military Transition Council and highlighted far-reaching programs to help veterans readjust and land well-paying jobs. She pointed to training, advising, disability services, tutoring, and service centers as examples of veteran-focused efforts. Community and technical colleges are also working jointly to identify training “crosswalks” that connect service members’ skills with today’s jobs.

“We are developing programs specifically for veterans in allied health, manufacturing, paralegal, homeland security, emergency management, and criminal justice,” she said.

Bruin also pointed out that colleges have won federal Department of Labor grants to help veterans train for jobs in aerospace, information technology, health information technology, nursing, aviation, and prosthetics/orthotics.

“We want to take a moment to thank all the active military service members, veterans, reserve, National Guard, and their families for their commitment and service to our nation,” she said. “Collectively, we are really proud to support them in pursuing and achieving their educational and career goals.”

The committee closed with public testimony on SB 5969, which requires public colleges and universities to adopt policies to award academic credit for military training.

Scott Copeland, SBCTC student services policy associate, spoke in favor of the measure, pointing out that the state’s 34 community and technical colleges currently have policies in place. SBCTC is proposing additional language to ensure prior learning credits are applied specifically to degrees and certificates so veterans don’t run the risk of exhausting or losing their benefits.

Link to SBCTC presentation.

Link to testimony (begins at 1:01).

Long-term education goals

Chair Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and House Higher Education Committee members, held a work session on Friday, Jan. 17 to hear how higher education institutions will meet goals outlined in the WA Student Achievement Council’s Ten-Year Roadmap.

Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, Dr. Tim Stokes, South Puget Sound Community College president, and Dr. Marty Cavalluzzi, Pierce College Puyallup president, explained how CTCs are working to meet the Roadmap goals for 2023:

·       100 percent of Washington adults (ages 25-44) will have a high school diploma or equivalency; and

·       70 percent of Washington adults (ages 25-44) will have a college credential.

Brown explained that CTCs represent communities across the state and help students at every educational level increase skills and workforce success.

“Every legislative district is covered by a community [or technical] college. We are very well situated because of the number of part time students and because of the outreach to traditionally underserved students to get to that growing population and help with the attainment goals of the Roadmap,” Brown said.

Dr. Cavalluzzi demonstrated how CTCs are meeting the Roadmap goals at a variety of stages throughout the system, supporting multiple pathways and on-ramps to increase student success.

“We are addressing the Roadmap goals on multiple levels. First, we’re creating that direct pipeline to the baccalaureate with 43 percent of our students earning an AA or an AS degree. We’re providing professional, technical training with degrees and certificates and now BAS degrees. That’s allowing people to continue in the workforce and move up within the workforce. We’re providing education for those individuals with less than a ninth grade education and we’re providing those courses that bridge that gap between basic skills and college level courses,” Cavalluzzi said.

A significant example of how CTCs continue to track student progress and reward success is the Student Achievement Initiative. Dr. Stokes explained to committee members that this initiative – created by the CTCs – drives our colleges to continually improve educational models.

“We believe this holds some of the greatest promise for us to help meet the two Roadmap goals. What it requires us to do on every single one of our college campuses is to rethink, redesign, and redeploy many of our educational practices… The Student Achievement Initiative is requiring us to think about how we move students through that process with the goal of getting them to college level work more quickly,” Stokes said.

Link to SBCTC presentation.

Link to hearing on TVW.


During early floor action this week, the House passed two bills that impact CTCs:

Dream Act

ESHB 1817, introduced last session by Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, passed the House 71-23 (2 excused). This bill would allow undocumented students to be eligible for state financial aid.

“All young adults who are committed to their communities…who graduate from our high schools…who get into our state colleges…who are already paying state tuition…would be allowed to compete for the opportunity for help with tuition. This isn’t a giveaway; it’s an opportunity to compete,” Hudgins said.

Co-sponsor Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, also spoke in favor of the measure: “This issue is still what is best for our communities, what is best for our state, what is best for our children. At the end of the day, what this bill does is say, ‘if you graduate from a Washington State high school, you will be treated just the same as every other graduate from that high school.’”

Listen to testimony on TVW (begins at 27:15).

ESHB 1817 is now headed to the Senate for possible consideration.

Differential tuition

HB 1043, also introduced last session by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, passed the House 90-2 (4 excused). This bill would repeal the ability for higher education institutions to charge differential tuition to resident students for more expensive courses or programs.

HB 1043 is now headed to the Senate for possible consideration.

Session resources

SBCTC Government Relations provides updated legislative resources throughout session:

·       Bill Watch List – important bills being considered that may have significant impact on the CTC system.

·       Bill Status Report – all bills being tracked by SBCTC staff during session.

·       Weekly Hearing Schedule – schedule of weekly hearings where CTCs are testifying and/or monitoring bills.

·       Legislator information – contact information for legislators organized by college district, committee, caucus, etc.