CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Council for Community and Technical College Education is working on a funding plan for two-year community and technical colleges due previous decreases in funding.

Last session, the West Virginia Legislature passed a resolution asking the Higher Education Policy Commission to create a funding plan, because there is not really a formula, as of now, according to Sarah Tucker, chancellor of WV Council for Community and Technical College Education.

Dr. Sarah Tucker, chancellor for the West Virginia Community and Technical College System

The public comment period for the funding plan for four-year institutions ending in April.

Now, work is beginning on a funding plan for two-year colleges.

Currently, the state legislature allocates straight-line items to the community and technical colleges rather than following a formula, and the allocations have not changed in over a decade.

CCTCE would like to form a model that will center specifically around two-year institutions’ needs and makes up for cuts in budgets in recent years.

“That funding formula has to look different for the community colleges than it does for the four-year institutions. They have different missions, different goals and very different students,” Tucker said.

“So we’re in the process of looking at the work that has been done for the four-year model, taking some of that work and then adapting it to a more community college-appropriate model.”

The four-year model focuses on various factors to determine funding, and the two-year model will use some of those same ideas.

“In the four year model, they include things like enrollment but also the types of courses that students are taking. So, are they taking STEM courses? The type of student that you’re talking about, is it a low income student that might have additional supports that they need? That student would typically be more expensive to educate, and so you work all of that type of information into the funding model.”

The funding plan must also adapt to the work-force credit hours that can make up about half of a community or technical college student’s course load.

Robert Brown, chairman of CCTCE, would like to spend time working on the model to best suit the needs of two-year colleges, possibly with a summit.

“We have to do some leg-work between now and then, but get some of that leg-work done and then really just sit in a room and hash it out with the interested parties for a day-and-a-half and figure out what we can come to an agreement on, and what a reasonable model moving forward would look like,” Tucker said.

What’s developed could have lasting effects.

“It will fundamentally change the way that higher education is done in the state of West Virginia, if this comes to pass. It absolutely will.”

In August, the final report on the plan will be presented and recommendations will be made for approval. The following month, the report will be proposed to the Higher Education Policy Commission.

Story by Jordyn Johnson

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