President urges support of funding proposal

August 24, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Mountwest Community and Technical College’s president urged the institution’s board of governors to support a new state funding proposal that would mean additional dollars to the school.

Student-focused funding for the state’s nine community and technical colleges was proposed by the state Community and Technical College Council at the request of the West Virginia Legislature, Mountwest President Keith Cotroneo told board members during Thursday morning’s meeting.

“Under the new funding plan, money allocated would be determined by access, success and workforce development,” he said.

If implemented, money allocated by the state would be split into those three areas and then distributed to the nine community and technical schools in the state by how they rank in the three categories.

“The new formula must account for variations in the missions of the state’s public institutions and the unique needs of their diverse student populations, be based on reliable metrics drawn from existing data resources, be straightforward and easy to understand, be transparent and auditable, promote innovation and student success and reward institutional success with additional funding,” Cotroneo explained.

He said funding would be based on how well the schools

have done in enrolling students measured by credit hours earned and credit hours attempted. Success funding would be based on graduation rates, and workforce development would provide financial support for schools that provide programs for students who aren’t necessarily earning credit hours.

Historically, many colleges have received state funding based on how many fulltime equivalent students are enrolled at the beginning of the semester, according to Cotroneo.

“I have worked in a number of different states, under a lot of different funding models,” Cotroneo said. “The most straightforward model was when your full-time enrollment grows, you get more money and when it goes down, you get less money. The new state proposal tries to do more than that, which is a good thing if we can get it implemented.”

In the state’s current fiscal year budget, $54 million was allocated for community and technical colleges. The West Virginia Community and Technical College System is asking for an additional $5 million in the next annual budget, Cotroneo added.

The new funding proposal is currently in the 30-day public comment period, which began Aug. 15 and runs through the end of the month, Cotroneo said. He said after the public comment period is over, the proposal will go to the state Legislature for its consideration.

“If you want to have input, now is the time to do it,” he said.

A copy of the proposal is available for download at https://new.wvctcs.org/reports-resources. Formal written comments may be submitted by email to the Office of the Chancellor of the West Virginia Com munity and Technical College System at chancellor@wvctcs.org.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, Mountwest’s chief financial officer Derek Adkins reported on the institution’s economic environment and key performance indicators.

He said despite negative trends in enrollment and decreased state support, the college has increased the number of certificates and degrees awarded.

“In 2012, Mountwest Community and Technical College awarded 370 certificates and degrees, and in 2016 the school awarded 904,” Adkins said. “That is an increase of over 144 percent, which was the largest percentage change in the state.”

However, Adkins explained that state support has steadily declined since fiscal year 2013, resulting in a cumulative loss of over $4 million for the college. He said enrollment has also steadily declined over that same time period.

“The college has increased its tuition to maintain its minimum level of services to achieve its mission, but increases have not completely offset the loss of state support,” he said. “Mountwest Community and Technical College has held tuition increases lower than many of its peers, but tuition has increased around 22 percent since 2012, putting further financial burden on our students.”

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