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The Texas commission is pushing for a review of community college funding that could help rural schools

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A plan to tie community college funding directly to student outcomes is now before Texas lawmakers.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board released recommendations this month that, if written and passed into law, would overhaul the state’s funding model and provide at least $600 million more for Texas’ 50 community college districts. Will give

The legislature will likely consider the matter after it convenes on Jan. 10, and some stakeholders are optimistic lawmakers will bite, especially because of the direct line community colleges have with the workforce and the economy.

Scholarship: Community colleges in the Houston area support the proposal for state funding to help rural partners

“Texas’ top priority should be to develop a competitive workforce for the future,” said Woody Hunt, chairman of the Texas Commission on Community College Finance, who drafted the recommendations. “If we can achieve this, it will help us solve other challenges we face in the mid-21st century and secure the quality of life we ​​have for our children and grandchildren going forward.”

Institutional leaders say colleges have outgrown the current system, where they are funded from three sources: property taxes, undergraduate and graduate tuition, and state dollars.

Pole banners celebrating 60 years of service to San Jacinto College are visible on campus.

Kirk Sides / Staff Photographer

State dollars used to be the bulk of funding for schools, but the shares have changed. Community colleges compete for those amounts and redistribute them each year from the same, stable pie. Schools shared out of the $1.8 billion pot over the past two years, according to the commission.

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Larger districts in urban areas have benefited the most from the current system, as the formula provides the most state dollars to schools with the largest number of students. A small percentage of resources are allocated through success-based measures, as well as a fixed amount for core activities.

The model also doesn’t account for the costs of newer educational approaches like dual credit, which means colleges are increasingly relying on their taxpayers to fund programs. This can be a problem for smaller colleges in rural areas, which are usually located in countries where the population is shrinking.

The proposed new model would eliminate competition, allowing schools to stand on their own and receive funding to reward student success.

The Committee on Community College Finance proposes an outcome-based system where the state adjusts the amount allocated to community colleges each year. It will measure “valuable credentials” awarded to various colleges, not limited to degrees and extending to non-credit programs such as staff training.

It would additionally provide funding based on the number of degrees awarded in high-demand fields, transfers to four-year universities, and “dual-credit” courses that would allow high school students to earn college credit.

incentive-based model

Community college leaders plan to make the model incentive-based, providing more funding for degree completion and transfer to economically or educationally disadvantaged students, as well as for progression toward degrees or other certificates.

It will also accommodate smaller schools starting at a loss given basic funding. If the income from tuition and property taxes exceeds that amount, they don’t have to reclaim the money.

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According to the report, smaller colleges are also expected to participate in “shared services,” where they outsource technology or learning resources from other institutions.

Another part of the proposal is to make community colleges more affordable for low-income students, particularly through increased funding for Texas Educational Opportunity Grants. One recommendation would provide financial assistance for tuition and required fees for economically disadvantaged students in dual credit courses, and expand workplace learning opportunities through partnerships with companies.

The final set of recommendations will lead to increased investment in the services colleges can provide, including start-up grants for new programs in high-demand areas. More money would be allocated to shared service programs and non-credit programs that can be combined with or substituted for credit programs.

Buy-in from business leaders

Administrators of Houston’s largest counties agree the system needs to change, especially to preserve their smaller partners. The recommendations come with buy-in from Texas business leaders, who argue that emphasizing student success rather than student numbers will encourage schools to produce outcomes that boost local economies.

Bob Harvey, CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, said: “By 2030, 62 percent of all jobs in Texas will require post-secondary qualifications — but Texas companies are already struggling to find qualified workers with the necessary training and skills.” Hey.” “By enacting these proposals to make community colleges law, we can address the skilled labor shortage, support our businesses, and ensure that more Texans have the opportunity to earn a subsistence wage. We have the Texas Legislature to step in and turn this session into a task force session.

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The Texas Commission on Community College Finance, which met last year after lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1230, created the group and tasked them with making recommendations on funding structure.

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