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Recap: Texas Commission on Community College Finance

July 1, 2022
The Texas Commission on Community College Finance met on Tuesday, June 21. Chairman Woody Hunt welcomed the committee and anchored the discussion by highlighting the critical  role community colleges play in filling workforce needs of the state.

The Commission heard presentations from the following speakers (their slides are linked): Members of the Commission participated in key discussions to ensure that recommendations for adjustments to the funding formulas promote the goals of Building a Talent Strong Texas, including prioritizing greater workforce alignment, recognizing credentials of value through funding formulas, and recognizing high priority student populations.  

Commissioner Harrison Keller (THECB) ebegan the meeting with a discussion about redesigning community college funding formulas to drive student outcomes from individual institutions of higher education to help bolster workforce development and meet regional and state workforce needs. He shared the results of a listening session conducted by THECB, which includes Philanthropy Advocates member Dr. Wynn Rosser of the TLL Temple Foundation. See Commissioner Keller’s slides highlighting key takeaways of the listening session, specifically slide 9 with suggested next steps on refining policies and finance impacting community colleges.
Dennis P. Jones with National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) presented on varying funding structures the Commission could consider implementing. He noted that regardless of how institution produces awards (degree, non-degree, continuing education, etc.), the finance structure needs to prioritize credentials of value. This comment is aligned with the new THECB state higher education strategic plan, which sets forth a goal for higher education institutions to prioritize offering credentials that lead to sustainable, in-demand jobs. Members of the Commission asked Mr. Jones questions about how to contemplate taxing districts and revenue sharing in finance models.
Commission Work Groups provided updates reflected in their slides. Key takeaways included:
  • Consideration of THECB serving as a broker of shared services
  • Desire to revisit how to support small and rural colleges
  • Discussion that House Bill 3 (2019 school finance reform bill) could be better aligned to higher education finance
  • Questions posed about how to address dual credit
  • Desire for data alignment between preK-12 through the workforce
Several points in the discussion reflect questions Philanthropy Advocates has asked through our commissioned research to better understand the challenges students face in systems alignment across high school, postsecondary, and the workforce.
Following work group presentations, several presenters shared programmatic examples of higher education and workforce alignment. Dr. Serrata, President of El Paso College and chair of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC), presented TACC’s recommendations for the Commission to consider. See TACC’s recommendations in the appendix of Dr. Serrata’s testimony here.
Members of the Texas Community College Student Advisory Council presented their experiences as current students to the Commission. Students shared challenges with transportation and childcare costs that cause barriers to pursuing higher education, noting that tuition is one piece of a broader conversation related to affordability. One student recommended the Commission consider providing greater financial support for wraparound services. Another student noted that workforce education students are an integral part of the state’scommunity college system, indicating their success impacts the local and state economy.
Finally, Dr. Lori Taylor, Professor and Head of Public Service and Administration Department from Texas A&M University and member of the Texas Community College Finance Commission Research Council provided an overview of ongoing research commissioned by THECB. She spoke to a decline of students taking academically oriented courses out of high school but found no decline with dual credit students, noting that it appears more students pursued dual credit while taking courses at home during the pandemic. Watch the presentation.

Here are the next steps for the Commission this fall:
  • September 12 (Austin) – To presentation draft recommendations from the Commission
  • October 18 (Austin) – To present and approve final Commission report
  • November — Final report will be sent to Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Texas Legislature

We have provided time segments of the meeting with notes on the discussion. The full meeting is available to watch here. Access presentation slides from the meeting here

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