February 18, 2011, Edition 6
Produced by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
In this issue
Legislative News is published weekly during legislative sessions by the staff of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, 1300 Quince Street SE, PO Box 42495, Olympia, WA 98504-2495, telephone 360-704-4310, FAX 360-704-4415.
Senate and House committees each met this week to consider their respective bills regarding transfer of management and oversight of the Everett Community College’s University Center of North Puget Sound to Washington State University (WSU).
House Higher Ed amends its EvCC University Center proposal
On Thursday, the House Higher Education Committee adopted Substitute House Bill 1792, and passed it out of committee with a 13-2 vote. The main change to the underlying bill is it now requires WSU to offer at least one high employer-demand degree program at the EvCC University Center. The program must be offered by December 1, 2012.
Other important aspects of the bill include:
Senate bill hearing
Earlier this week, the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee held a public hearing on their version of the University Center proposal Senate Bill 5636, which would ultimately assign management and leadership of Everett Community College’s University Center of North Puget Sound to Washington State University (WSU). Prime-sponsored by Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, SB 5636 is the companion to HB1792 heard last week in the House.
Sen. Haugen said Snohomish County is the largest county in Washington without four-year university presence. She said while Everett Community College (EvCC) has done a fine job, it’s not enough for the needs of the area. She thinks WSU is the right match and stressed the need for a four-year research university presence in Snohomish County.
Ray Stephanson, Everett mayor, said while the state faces immediate budget issues, it must also look to the future and what is best for businesses and residents. He said the most revealing conversations he has had is with Boeing officials who told him they will need 1,000 engineers graduating per year.
“We’ve been blessed with a great community college and a great leader in Dr. Beyer,” he said. “They’ve done a remarkable job with the center, but this is about setting a foundation for the future.”
Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, expressed concerns about ongoing costs and what the state can currently afford, asking, “If we have six children and we can’t feed them, why would we add another?”
Sen. Haugen acknowledged the difficult times the state is facing but asked, “If not now, when?”
David Beyer, Everett Community College president, said EvCC is strongly committed to expanding four-year opportunities in Snohomish County, which they’ve been doing for the past four years. He said all current Center partners—except WSU—agree that SB 5636 won’t benefit students, taxpayers or employers.
Christine Kerlin, EvCC University Center and strategic planning vice president, told the committee the Legislature approved EvCC’s University Center plan in 2006. Since then they have partnered with eight four-year institutions to bring 25 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs to Snohomish County and currently serve more than 500 students as they work toward meeting the workforce and student demands identified in the plan.
“We have a plan and we’re following it,” she said. “This is an inappropriate and premature bill” and a better first step, she said, would be to have WSU start working with them to offer degrees within the University Center structure.
Charlie Earl, SBCTC executive director, pointed out some difficulties in the bill, including that it calls for a new plan, but doesn’t require the Legislature to approve the plan before WSU would take over the Center. He asked the committee to hold off on the bill, especially since so many in the higher education system—including the Center’s university partners—don’t agree with the proposal.
Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, asked if the proposal had been vetted through the Higher Education Coordinating Board as part of the System Design process. Earl said it had not.
Denise Yochum, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom president, said it is her experience that a University Center is a very cost-effective model, providing four-year degrees at the least cost to the state.
Regarding WSU’s earlier statement that there would be no cost to the state in the near-term because WSU would first transfer existing FTES to Everett, Yochum questioned whether transferring FTES actually increases baccalaureate production. “It just moves them around,” she said. “The state needs to weigh whether having another branch campus in Snohomish is more important than increased degree production.”
Larry James, WSU associate executive vice president, explained how WSU recently partnered with Olympic College (OC) in Bremerton to offer a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the OC campus. “It’s very successful,” he said. “It works in Bremerton and there is no reason why it wouldn’t work in Everett.”
Pete Crane, Olympic College trustee, opposed the bill on behalf of the 150 community and technical college trustees. He said many years ago the system was asked how it could increase baccalaureate production and University Centers was an answer and “Everett’s is one of the best.”
“Our colleges are doing an incredibly good job in a very tough environment,” he said. “If we have a system working well and we have a budget crisis, why change it now?”
“In lieu of this proposal, what do you recommend?” Sen. Tom asked.
Crane said offering WSU’s mechanical engineering program through the University Center, just as they are doing with Olympic College in Bremerton would be a great place to start.
As current partners offering bachelor’s degrees at the EvCC Center, Sherry Burkey, Western Washington University associate vice president for university relations and director of legislative relations and Margaret Shepherd, University of Washington director of state relations, both expressed concerns with the bill.
“Why change a model when it’s one of the most successful in the country?” Burkey said, while Shepherd added, “Strong partnerships are what have made this model so successful.”
Also speaking in favor of the bill were John Gardner, WSU vice president for advancement and external affairs; Brian Pitcher, WSU Spokane chancellor; Crystal Donner, Perteet Inc. in Everett and WSU Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering; advisory board member, Matt Smith, Snohomish County EDC; and Briahna Taylor, Snohomish County Council.
Speaking in opposition to the bill were Sandra Schroeder, AFT Washington president and Gene Chase, Everett Community College trustee.
On Monday, the House Higher Education Committee heard testimony on House Bill 1909, which would promote innovation at community and technology colleges.
Prime sponsored by Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Olympia, the bill would create the Community and Technical College Innovation Account to implement the Strategic Technology Plan and improve student achievement, student services, and increase system-wide administrative efficiencies.
Community and technical colleges would transfer three percent of operating fees to the account, to be held by the State Treasurer. The account would be used for projects to implement the community and technical college system's Strategic Technology Plan or pay off debt for financing contracts authorized by the Legislature.
In 2006 and 2007, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) conducted an analysis of technology deployment at community and technical colleges. Their purpose was to learn how technology could be mobilized to advance student learning, student services, and create greater administrative efficiencies. In all three areas, the SBCTC found the need for greater uniformity across the 34 colleges in the system and the P-20 education system.
In 2008, the SBCTC adopted the Strategic Technology Plan as a roadmap for how the community and technical college system can leverage 21st Century technologies to support student achievement.
Within that plan, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Project was identified to address the system’s critical need to upgrade its outdated back-end administrative systems. The current outdated software lacks functionality and limits the system’s ability to support the information needs of students, faculty, staff, administration, and the public.
Jean Floten, Bellevue College president and current chair of the CTC technology committee, said, “Time is running out on our current administrative computer system. With funding such as it is, this bill is the only way we can fund the ERP to upgrade it.”
Student management, financial, personnel, and payroll systems all reside on an outdated administrative system built on COBOL technology from the early 1980s.
“It makes requiring a level of service to students, staff, faculty and the public very expensive and inefficient,” Floten said. She said the colleges go through convulsions to pull data and information off the system.
Cable Green, SBCTC director of eLearning and open education, said Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, kicked off the effort, coordinating the Technology Taskforce when he served on the State board.
“We’re not going to do things 34 different ways because we’ve got 34 different colleges,” Green said. “It is simply inefficient to have multiple tools and support services for administrative functions, student services, and teaching and learning.”
“Because we buy together, we have already saved about $6 million per year on teaching and learning technologies,” he said.
“We’ve got to be worried about the front-end services for students: anything that students stand in line for, there should be an online student service,” Green said, quoting Rep. Carlyle.
Green cited the system-wide tools and initiatives introduced since the Strategic Technology Plan was approved: Lecture Capture (Tegrity), 24/7 Help Desk, web conferencing (Elluminate), 24/7 library reference services, eTutoring consortium, partnership with amazon.com for streaming media (so faculty can upload large files for students to access), the Open Educational Resources initiative (to develop low-cost textbooks for the most common courses) in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
On Thursday, during executive session the committee passed a substitute version of the bill, revising the amount to “up to” three percent allowing the State Board to assess a lesser amount.
On Tuesday, the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee heard emotional testimony during a public hearing on Senate Bill 5719, regarding fixed tuition rates for students with disabilities.
Sponsored by Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, the bill seeks to fix the tuition rates of qualified students at the level in effect on the student's term of enrollment for the duration of enrollment at a college or university.
Qualified students are defined as those with a disability recognized under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Sen. Shin said he had been pondering this bill many years.
Data provided by a panel comprised of representatives from SBCTC, Council of Presidents, and Central Washington University indicated that while the bill’s intentions are good, higher education cannot take on the financial burden at this time.
Scott Copeland, SBCTC policy associate for student services, thanked Sen. Shin for his past work with the CTC Disability Services Council and said his legacy will be as a compassionate advocate for students, but opposed the bill for fiscal reasons.
“Last year, the community and technical college system served 16,000 students with ADA accommodations and spent $3.2 million,” he said. “Tuition revenue is becoming the primary operating financial mechanism for institutions and this bill would decrease tuition collection by $1.9 million.” Copeland said this would harm all students with a potential loss of services at a time when colleges have seen increased need for student services, especially veterans.
The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 5654 regarding common course numbering (CCN) at institutions of higher education.
Prime sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, SB 5654 would require each institution of higher education to formally adopt common course numbers and specifically identify them in all course publications by August 2013.
Michelle Andreas, SBCTC associate director for educational services, expressed concern with bill. “Community and technical colleges have over 330 CCN courses,” she said. “This bill may require us to completely re-do work already done over the last four years.” She asked that if the bill moves forward, the community and technical college CCN criteria and protocols be adopted.
Mike Reilly, Council of Presidents executive director, said he appreciates the effort’s intent, but is opposed at this time. “The transferability issue is not fixed in this particular bill. We worked closely with the CTCs as they developed common course numbering,” he said. “It would be tremendous undertaking. And would be pretty much all we’d be doing for the next couple years.”
Julie Garver, The Evergreen State College director of governmental relations, opposed the bill saying TESC doesn’t offer courses, but rather, offers programs. “The bill would impede our transferability,” she said. “Evergreen already works closely with CTCs, redesigning and revising agreements every year.”
Bernal Baca, AFT Washington, spoke in support, suggesting an amendment to include the common course numbering work already done by the community and technical colleges.
Corry Forbes, Green River Community College student association, spoke in support, describing a friend who just found out 15 credits won’t transfer to the UW. “Although the Direct Transfer Agreement helps, it doesn’t go far enough,” he said.
Steve Lindstrom, Northwest Career Colleges Federation, asked that Career Colleges be included if the bill moves forward.
For legislators who serve on fiscal committees, the next few days will be long and busy as their executive session schedules will grow exponentially.
Bills that survive the Monday, Feb. 21 first round of cut-offs to pass bills out of policy committees have until Friday, Feb. 25 to be passed out of fiscal committees, and until Thursday, March 10, to be sent to the opposite chamber to start the whole process all over again.
Budget bills and bills considered "necessary to implement the budget" are exempt from these early cut-off deadlines.
Next week’s edition will include a round-up of bills of significant impact to community and technical colleges that survive the Feb. 21 policy cut-off.
Faculty collective bargaining
On Tuesday, the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee passed House Bill 1503, prime sponsored by Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, the bill expands faculty bargaining on salary increases by removing current statutory limitations.
In a narrow vote on Thursday, the House Higher Education Committee passed House Bill 1631. Prime sponsored by Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Olympia, the bill directs the SBCTC to include funding to cover academic employee salary increments in its biennial budget request and allows local trustees to provide additional funds when the Legislature does not provide funding.
Purchasing from Correctional Industries
On Monday, the House Higher Education Committee passed Substitute House Bill 1663, prime sponsored by Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Olympia. The bill adds language requiring institutions of higher education to work to assure the Department of Corrections is notified of bid opportunities with the goal of meeting or exceeding the two percent target for purchases from Correctional Industries.
Higher Education Opportunity Act
On Monday, the House Higher Education Committee passed Substitute House Bill 1795 prime sponsored by Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, enacting the Higher Education Opportunity Act. See the bills of significance document for anoverview of the Act.
Western Governors University
On Monday, the House Higher Education Committee passed proposed Substitute House Bill 1822, prime sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney, D-Seattle, which establishes Western Governors University as the state’s first nonprofit online university.
On Wednesday, its companion Substitute Senate Bill 5136, prime sponsored by Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, passed out of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.
Aerospace training student loan program
On Wednesday, the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee passed Senate Bill 5674, prime sponsored by Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, creating the aerospace training student loan program.
More bill updates not included in stories or in the list above.
Legislative News is published weekly during legislative sessions by the staff
of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges,
1300 Quince Street SE, PO Box 42495, Olympia, WA 98504-2495, phone 360-704-4310, fax 360-704-4415. Editors: Janelle Runyon, Sherry Nelson