Running Start costs bill receives public hearing one week before first session cutoff
House and Senate committees wrapped up the bulk of their public hearings this week, as the first cutoff of the 2020 session approaches Feb. 7. That cutoff requires bills to be voted out of their assigned policy committee in order to continue in the legislative process.
Friday morning, the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee took up a Superintendent of Public Instruction-requested bill that would require colleges to pick up the cost of books and fees for Running Start students. Also up for hearings were bills on college administrative staffing levels and collegiate athlete compensation.
Senate committee hears testimony on OSPI dual-credit bill
Jan. 31 — The Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee held a public hearing on PSSB 6505, a bill that would require colleges, universities and K-12 schools to pick up the cost of fees, books and supplies for every student in dual credit programs — Running Start, College in the High School, AP, IB and Cambridge.
Chris Reykdal, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the measure would improve equity in dual-credit programs. It would also save families and the state money by moving more students faster through college. The real savings in higher education, he said, can be accomplished with an “enormous expansion of dual credit and it will not happen if families have to pay out of pocket.”
Jan Yoshiwara, executive director with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges explained that community and technical colleges already waive fees and provide books for low-income Running Start students. However, requiring colleges to pay for books and materials for every Running Start student, even those who can afford those expenses, would divert $15 to $17 million away from quality instruction and support services that all students need, she said.
Yoshiwara recommended having the Washington Student Achievement Council facilitate solutions among OSPI, K-12 and higher education institutions. “I am confident that we can come up with solutions to these problems, which don’t just include finances but also include academic preparation, advising, and understanding of options.”
Tim Stokes, president of South Puget Sound Community College, explained that there’s a shortfall in the way the Running Start program is funded. At his college, the funding gap amounts to $1.8 million each year already and the bill would add another $717,000 to the yearly cost, he said.
“This bill would require us to reduce services and support to single parents -- who are often working multiple jobs to afford college — to buy textbooks and pay the fees for a student like my daughter who has access to funds.”
Given the committee’s heavy work load, Chair Wellman cut off testimony on PSSB 6505 to move to other bills. As a result, Ivan Harrell, president of Tacoma Community College, and Lori Christmas, Running Start coordinator at Grays Harbor College, supplied their testimony in writing.
Harrell said the bill would cost Tacoma Community College about $1.3 million each year in books and another $450,000 in fees. There’s a real need for equity, he wrote, but this is not the way to go.
“As someone who has worked at community and technical colleges in six different states … I have to say that this bill is one of the most concerning ones regarding dual-enrollment programming that I have seen,” he wrote. “I say this because this bill continues to move more and more in a direction of providing support to students and families with means, instead of concentrating our support on improving access for students and families who come from lower-economic backgrounds.”
Christmas wrote, “If Grays Harbor College becomes responsible for waiving fees, providing textbooks, and transportation for ALL Running Start students it will take a significant toll on the services we can provide to every student at GHC — not only the financially stable students, but our low-income students as well.”
House committee hears bills on staffing levels and college athlete compensation
Jan. 28 — The House College and Workforce Development Committee at its hearing Monday took up a bill related to staffing at colleges and universities (HB 2574) and a bill on collegiate athlete compensation (HB 1084).
Staffing levels at colleges and universities
HB 2574 is aimed at reducing the number of administrative positions at colleges and universities to match the 2008-level ratio of non-faculty exempt employee to full-time equivalent (FTE) students. It would also reduce appropriations to colleges and universities for the 2021 fiscal year to match those staffing reductions. For the community and technical college system, that cut would amount to 3.2 employee FTE per 1,000 student FTE, or a reduction of at least 407 FTE employees. The fiscal year 2021 appropriation to the college system would be reduced by $17,066,000.
Rep. Drew Stokesbary, the bill’s prime sponsor, told the committee that the bill is aimed at making colleges and universities more affordable and cost-effective.
“The point of this bill is really to restore a little bit of accountability towards our institutions of higher education and how they grow and build their budgets," he said.
John Boesenberg, deputy executive director for business operations at the State Board, testified against the bill, explaining that it would reduce instruction and support services for students.
“Exempt employees fill a wide variety of positions in our institutions. They fill student services needs — providing direct services to students — like navigators, advisors in our advising centers or our financial aid centers. They help students register for our classes,” he said. “They also are involved in compliance and accountability and reporting. They also keep our campuses safe and maintain our buildings and our grounds and our IT infrastructure.”
The bill has not been scheduled for a committee vote ahead of the Feb. 7 policy committee cutoff.
Collegiate athlete compensation
Also up for a hearing was HB 1084, which would allow college athletes to receive compensation, and it would prohibit colleges and universities from suspending students who receive compensation. The bill was introduced and had a public hearing during the 2019 legislative session, but was not voted on by the College and Workforce Development Committee.
California in 2019 became the first state to allow college athletes to receive compensation, counter to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules. The California bill, Rep. Stokesbary, the bill's prime sponsor, said, was modeled on HB 1084.
Stokesbary modified the bill for the 2020 session to mirror the bill enacted in California. The proposed substitute addresses the 4-year university athletics and does not include community college athletics.
“Everybody else in Washington state — you, me, the members of this audience, every student who isn't an athlete — has a right to their name, image and likeness that they can sell to anybody who wants to pay for that right,” Stokesbary said. “But for whatever reason, when a student wants to compete in higher education in athletics, they have to sign away their rights to their name, image and likeness. So this isn't about giving athletes special treatment. This is about giving athletes the same treatment that every other Washingtonian and every other college student has by right.”
Marco Azurdia, executive director of the Northwest Athletic Conference, the organization governing athletics at community colleges in Washington, British Columbia, Idaho and Oregon, testified on behalf of the community and technical college system.
“Many of our student enrollments, in terms of athletics, are from under-represented populations, and this is the one opportunity they have to maybe play two years of a sport in the [Northwest Athletic Conference] and then move on and get their education at a 4-year institution,” he said. He encouraged the committee to give special consideration to community college athletics, if future proposals were to include the sector.
The bill is scheduled next week for a possible committee vote.
Senate committee holds work session on addressing sexual misconduct on campuses
Jan. 28 — The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee held a work session at its hearing Monday on approaches to sexual misconduct issues on college campuses. The session was held ahead of a hearing for SB 6439, the Senate companion to HB 2327, which was heard in the Jan. 21 House College and Workforce Development Committee hearing.
The committee heard an overview of Title IX and proposed rule changes by the US Department of Education from Legal Voice, an organization that provides legal support and advocacy for women and LGBTQ people. It also heard from a panel from the University of Washington.
Representing the community and technical college system were Ed McCallister, human resources director for the State Board, Julie Huss, vice president for human resources at Centralia College, and Stephen Smith, executive director of human resources at Tacoma Community College. Huss described hiring practices for permanent, adjunct, hourly, and student employees, including background checks for potential employees.
“Our background checks are considered in the hiring process but don't necessarily preclude somebody from employment, depending on what the nature of the conviction might have been, how long it's been and how it might relate to the position that they've applied for,” she said. The college does not specifically ask about sexual misconduct or sexual harassment allegations."
Smith gave an overview of how TCC establishes policies and procedures and the college’s policy and procedures related to sexual misconduct. He described the college’s shared governance structure, where all campus groups may weigh in on a proposed policy and associated procedures. As the human resources executive director, he is consulted on policy and procedure proposals with personnel or Title IX implications.
Smith outlined the process his office follows on a report of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, which includes investigation, documentation and follow-up.
“We do our best to do follow up with the parties for Title IX purposes. We have some closure pieces in terms of documentation that includes extending available options and resources for support for both victims complainants and respondents,” he said.
Bill status roundup
The bills listed below have been featured in this year's Legislative News. This status is as of noon Friday.
|Bill number||Bill title||Bill status|
|HB 1084||Concerning unfair practices involving compensation of athletes in higher education||Scheduled for executive session in the House College and Workforce Development Committee the week of Feb. 3.|
|HB 2299||Creating prison to postsecondary education pathways||Scheduled for executive session in the House College and Workforce Development Committee the week of Feb. 3.|
|HB 2324/SB 6248||Concerning the capital budget||Jan. 14: Public hearing in House Capital Budget Committee|
|HB 2325/SB 6168||Making 2019-2021 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations||Jan. 13: Public hearing in House Appropriations Committee|
|HB 2327||Addressing sexual misconduct at postsecondary educational institutions||Scheduled for executive session in the House College and Workforce Development Committee the week of Feb. 3.|
|HB 2382||Concerning housing for community and technical college faculty and employees||Jan. 29: Passed House College and Workforce Development Committee.|
|HB 2468||Improving the effectiveness and adequacy of the workforce education investment surcharge by decreasing compliance and administrative burdens for taxpayers and the department of revenue||Jan. 23: Public hearing in House Finance Committee.|
|HB 2513/SB 6140||Prohibiting the practice of transcript withholding and limiting the practice of registration holds at institutions of higher education as debt collection practices|
|HB 2523||Expanding access to higher education|
|HB 2542||Concerning tuition waivers for children of eligible veterans.||Jan. 29: Passed House College and Workforce Development Committee.|
|HB 2574||Reducing administrative staffing at institutions of higher education.||Jan. 28: Public hearing in House College and Workforce Development.|
|HB 2654||Requiring uniform reporting of certain fiscal details by community and technical colleges||Jan. 29: First substitute bill passed House College and Workforce Development Committee.|
|SB 6140/HB 2513||Prohibiting the practice of transcript withholding and limiting the practice of registration holds at institutions of higher education as debt collection practices||Jan. 16: Public hearing in the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.|
|SB 6168/HB 2325||Making 2019-2021 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations||Jan. 14: Public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee|
|SB 6248/HB 2324||Concerning the capital budget||Jan. 14: Public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee|
|SB 6374||Concerning apprenticeship materials for dual credit scholarship programs||
Jan. 23: Passed Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.
Jan. 27: Referred to Senate Ways and Means Committee.
|SB 6405||Supporting student success at community and technical colleges by increasing full-time faculty and stabilizing the use of part-time faculty||
Jan. 23: Passed Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.
Jan. 27: Referred to Senate Ways and Means Committee.
|SB 6424||Concerning room and board for college bound scholarship students||Jan. 23: Public hearing in Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.|
|SB 6492||Addressing workforce education investment funding through business and occupation tax reform||
Jan. 30: Passed Senate 28-21
Feb. 3: Scheduled for public hearing House Finance Committee
|SB 6505||Expanding access to dual credit opportunities by eliminating direct costs to students and families||Jan. 31: Public hearing in Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee.|
Trustees confirmed by Senate
The following trustees were confirmed by the Senate this week:
- Christina Blocker, Bates Technical College, confirmed Jan. 29
- Heather Mansy, Lower Columbia College, confirmed Jan. 29
- Steve Adelstein, Whatcom Community College, confirmed Jan. 29
Coming up next week
Policy committees will be busy next week voting bills out of committee ahead of Friday's cutoff deadline. Bills will need to be voted out of their policy committees in order to continue in the legislative process.
Up for hearings are SB 6492, the Senate's effort to clarify the language in the Workforce Education Investment Act and increase revenue to meet anticipated demand, and SB 6576, the Senate companion to HB 2299. That bill would allow the Department of Corrections to offer a broader range of college-level classes and programs, explore the use of internet in those classes and programs, accommodate people with learning disabilities and other needs, and ease the transfer process after the incarcerated person is released from prison. HB 2299 was heard in the House College and Workforce Development Committee on Jan. 15 and is scheduled for a committee vote next week.