BOISE — College of Western Idaho President Bert Glandon said Monday that everything is changing when it comes to Idaho’s community colleges, as they’re flooded with more and more high school students taking dual-credit classes.
Within the next year-and-a-half to two years, Glandon said, dual credit is “going to change the whole term of what retention is at a community college.” Increasingly, students will be showing up with as many as 35 college credits — which means rather than serving them for two years to get an associate’s degree, they might stay at a community college for just a single semester before they move on to a university or the workforce.
“This will be a huge, dramatic and dynamic disruption,” Glandon told the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. “We’re in a revolution, we’re in a really disruptive state as far as higher education in the country, and I think this will be one of the big drivers.”
Glandon joined Idaho’s three other community college presidents in making his budget pitch to lawmakers Monday; all noted the impact of dual-credit students. At CWI, they make up about a third of the college’s 31,636 students, but provide only about 14 percent of the revenue. “That is a challenge and that is a crisis,” Glandon said.
The numbers are even more dramatic at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, where President Jeff Fox reported to JFAC that 50 percent of CSI’s 12,579 students are students age 17 or younger who are taking dual-credit courses, for both high school and college credits. Dual-credit students, however, account for just 4.6 percent of CSI’s tuition revenue. “We lose a few dollars per dual-credit student,” he said.
Colleges receive only $65 per credit hour from the state’s Advanced Opportunities program for serving dual-credit students. On Monday, Idaho Education News reported that according to a state report, in 2016-17, colleges spent more than $1.6 million to subsidize dual-credit programs. Gov. Brad Little is recommending a $3 million increase in state funding for advanced opportunities including dual credit next year in the public school budget, but the number of students participating also has been skyrocketing.
Overall, Little is recommending a 2.7 percent increase in state general funds for community colleges next year, compared to the 9.1 percent increase the colleges requested. The colleges had requested $3 million to launch a new outcomes-based funding model recommended by a state higher education task force, which Little has passed on for this year, instead recommending enrollment-based funding and a $7 million boost to the state’s Opportunity Scholarship program.
Fox said he supports the governor’s recommendation. “We’re part of a team,” he said.
Glandon agreed. “We support the governor’s budget, and we support him taking a good, hard look at outcomes-based funding.”
The plan, approved by the state Board of Education, was to shift the basis for funding increases at all of Idaho’s higher education institutions next year from one tied to what’s now known as an “enrollment workload adjustment” model, to one tied to outcomes, specifically identified as degrees and certificates awarded.
JFAC on Monday kicked off a week of education budget hearings, first hearing an overview from state Board of Education President Linda Clark and a presentation from Matt Freeman, executive director of the Office of the State Board of Education. Freeman didn’t address outcomes-based funding, drawing a question from lawmakers.
“The board’s request for outcomes-based funding was not recommended by the governor,” Freeman said, “so I would yield to the governor’s office.”
David Hahn, higher education analyst for the governor’s Division of Financial Management, said, “The governor wishes to further study this over the next year, to really take a look at the differences, the advantages and the disadvantages between the enrollment workload adjustment model and OBF (outcomes-based funding). It’s a major policy shift, and he wants to take the next year to study that.”
Hahn added, “This does not mean another task force. He personally wants to look at it and hear the voices of the stakeholders on this matter before he makes a decision.”
Hahn also noted that in lieu of launching OBF next year, Little is proposing both funding for the enrollment workload adjustment and a $7 million increase in the state’s Opportunity Scholarship fund, with the idea that that benefits all of higher ed in Idaho through directly funding students to go on after high school.
Fast-growing CWI is slated to get additional funding of $1.1 million next year through the enrollment workload adjustment.
Glandon told lawmakers that last year’s state funding boost went entirely to cover state-required 3 percent merit raises for employees, for the portion that otherwise would have had to come out of the college’s budget because not all employees are paid by state general fund dollars; and to lease three portable classrooms. The college was simply out of space, he said.
Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, asked Glandon when CWI last increased tuition.
Glandon said the college has held tuition even for the past three years.
After the meeting, he said when CWI first opened, its tuition quickly rose from $119 per credit to $139. “We can’t keep putting this on the backs of students,” he said. “We have to figure out how to be a leaner operation.”
That was the direction from the college’s locally elected board of trustees, he said. “We budget very, very conservatively.”