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How would Propel NC impact college funding?

A note from us

Nation here with the latest edition of Awake58. If you missed last week’s newsletter, you can find it on our website. ICYMI, we released Hannah’s in-depth research on the indicators of financial health for our community colleges last week.

The system’s new proposed funding formula (Propel NC) moves forward… FAFSA Day was last weekend… First Lady Jill Biden visited Forsyth Technical Community College last week… We released EdNC’s annual report today… Pitt Community College President Lawrence Rouse announced his retirement…

Propel NC is the name for the system’s new proposed funding formula for our community colleges. Hannah’s recap of the January State Board of Community Colleges meeting walks you through how Propel NC would work if the General Assembly approves the model.

Under this model, all curriculum and continuing education (CE) courses would reside in the same workforce sector. A nursing curriculum and nursing CE course would be funded the same way, for example.

The proposed sectors largely focus on health care, technology, and trades. Courses not on this list would be held harmless and retain their same value, but they would not be labeled in tiers. There would be a catch-all sector for transfer and general education courses.

Under the proposed model, courses will be ranked and valued by statewide salary job demand data. The course rankings will be updated every three years.

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, an ex-officio member of the State Board, expressed his support for the plan.

“Moving from tiers-based to labor-market driven, I would suppose that would give us a lot more flexibility, so I think that’s very good,” Robinson said. “Community colleges are going to be essential (to the economy)… so I’m glad to see the work that’s going on.”

Hannah’s in-depth research on the indicators of financial health for our community colleges was released last week. We appreciate all of the feedback and commentary the report generated throughout the week. Hannah spent months interviewing key community college leaders, digging through data, and working on her analysis. We are grateful for the ongoing support of readers like you who help EdNC invest in such intensive research projects.

We released our annual report this week to document our “why” and illustrate our impacts. I hope you will take the time to read Mebane’s excellent outline of the work we produced last year. The annual report includes a high-level overview of the results of our impact survey. Take a look:

Each year, we survey you — our audience — to assess and track our impact. This year, 2,440 of you took our annual survey — even more than last year! Highlights include:

  • Fifty-two percent of respondents were K-12 teachers, 20% were community college faculty, 9% work in child care.

  • Our respondents were 27% nonwhite, including 14% Black.

  • EdNC prompts discussion: 68% of you discuss things you read on EdNC with your colleagues, and 35% share our articles. Remember when you share our articles on social media (versus just “liking” them), you are extending the reach of our work to those in your orbit, and that makes a difference.

  • Thirty-six percent of respondents directly applied knowledge gained from EdNC in their professional life.

  • Fifteen percent changed your mind because of our work, and 10% of you went on to talk to a policymaker.

  • Just 7% of you don’t think we are providing a neutral view of what’s happening in education. In these polarized, politicized times, we take that as a win.

The full report documents our work, our travel, and our impacts in communities across the state. We could not accomplish this work without all of you. Thank you for continuing to welcome us to all of the places where our students, faculty, and staff gather. We will forever be grateful.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Chief of Growth —

EdNC reads

N.C. Community College System unveils new funding model, Propel NC

The January State Board of Community Colleges meeting included the approval of Wilkes Community College’s new president, the Board starting work to add reelection approval of community college presidents (think: contract extensions) to the State Board of Community Colleges code, and the recognition of several new system office staff member.

Propel NC was also a key focus at the meeting. Hannah’s article featured several additional details on the proposal:

The NCCCS modernization plan proposes to increase the base allocation 5.8%, “which closes the gap to actual spending patterns and account for inflation,” the NCCCS document says. “This modification would also increase the enrollment allotment above 750 FTE based on this increase in other costs funding.” The anticipated cost for this request is about $24.4 million.

The NCCCS modernization plan also includes two other focus areas, listed below.

  • Enrollment increase reserve. The current enrollment growth reserve was implemented in 2010 in response to the large number of students enrolling in community colleges after the Great Recession. The system wants to request $6 million in non-recurring funds for a fixed per-FTE amount for any colleges that go over the enrollment threshold set by their FTE for the fiscal year. The system would then like to build replenishment of the fund into the recurring enrollment growth fund in the state budget.
  • Excess tuition retention. Excess tuition receipts currently fund the enrollment increase reserve. The NCCCS work group would like to change that, allowing excess tuition receipts to return to the college which generated them but only on years when the system as a whole generates excess receipts.

“I couldn’t be more proud of where we’ve arrived at this point in time. I think this is a game changer for our system,” NCCCS President Dr. Jeff Cox said in November. “It answers the call that I think we’re hearing from our legislature and our governor about the community colleges’ critical role in meeting the workforce needs of the future of our state. …It aligns our system in a way we’ve just never been before.”

The reelection provision the Board is taking up also generated dialogue in committee:

State law has historically given the State Board of Community Colleges the authority to approve or deny the election of local college presidents by local boards of trustees. The new budget, passed in September, adds reelection authority to the Board.

This is being interpreted as requiring State Board approval for any contract renewals, extensions, or amendments for local presidents, and the State Board on Friday proposed an amendment to the State Board of Community Colleges code to reflect that.

Hannah’s write-up includes the proposed language for the amendment.

ANNUAL REPORT | Across the education continuum, the impact of EdNC

Our annual report is out now. The report will walk you through our work, our accomplishments, and our theory of change.

Our 2023 highlights included national recognition for our early childhood reporting and research, the ripple effects of our blitz of all 58 community colleges, completing the 100-county Extra Miles Tour, and providing strategic support in Canton and Haywood County, which had the state’s largest layoff of the year.

One highlight was the work that went into Hannah’s report that we released last week:

In fall 2022, EdNC visited all 58 community colleges as part of our Impact58 blitz thanks to the leadership of Alessandra Quattrocchi. We learned about early colleges, dual enrollment, funding, and more.

Our research during the blitz led our leadership team to identify five indicators that contribute to the financial health of the colleges and impact how well colleges are able to serve their communities. Hannah McClellan then conducted in-depth research on the five indicators, including 1) individual state budget appropriations, 2) county support, 3) the rate of dual enrollment, 4) foundations and philanthropic support, and 5) receipts from student tuition and other fees.

I encourage you to read the rest of EdNC’s annual report on our website.

North Carolina once led the way in early childhood policy and investment. Five other states are showing us how to do it again.

Last week, Liz and Katie published research following their tour of five different states leading the way on early care and education. They found four effective strategies those states used to move toward making early child care and education a public good: advocacy from the business community, grassroots organizing, streamlining governance, and identifying/creating new funding streams.

I encourage you to read their full report. Here’s a note from Katie and Liz on how early child care connects to the postsecondary space.

Community college leaders have identified the child care crisis as a barrier to parents’ educational journeys and faculty members’ ability to thrive. And as the top educator of early childhood teachers, our community colleges play a critical role in solving the systemic issues of child care in our communities.

Child care programs face a financial cliff this summer that will further limit families’ access to affordable, high-quality care. EdNC’s early childhood team wanted to know what other states were doing to support their youngest learners, so we travelled to five states that are leading the way in early childhood policy and investment. We identified four strategies that helped these states step into the leadership role once held by North Carolina.

Then we spoke with more than a dozen experts from across the state to see how these strategies could work in our state. We learned it’s not too late for North Carolina to save our youngest students from going over the cliff.

Around NC

FAFSA Day was held on Jan. 27. You can find our preview of the event on our website. We will publish our recap from FAFSA Day at Robeson Community College soon.

The NextNC Scholarship was a topic of conversation at FAFSA Days across the state. Here are the details on the scholarship, from NC Newsline:

North Carolina students whose families make $80,000 or less are eligible for a minimum $5,000 scholarship at any of the UNC System’s 16 universities, the system office announced this week. Families with greater financial need could see more aid.

The Next NC Scholarship, a combination of federal Pell grants and state funded financial aid, is open to qualifying families who fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by June 1.

The scholarship, open to all state residents with a high school diploma or equivalent whose households make $80,000 or less, also covers all tuition and fees at any of the state’s 58 community colleges. Students attending one of North Carolina’s community colleges will receive at least $3,000.

Southwestern Community College began promoting NextNC last week in their community. You can find the college’s announcement on SCC’s website.

Pitt Community College President Lawrence Rouse announced his retirement last week. Rouse will step aside this summer. Rouse told WNCT: “I will cherish the memories and relationships that were formed here at PCC, and I look forward to witnessing the college’s continued growth and success. As I step into this new chapter of my life, I am confident that PCC is poised for a bright future, with great accomplishments ahead.”

Cape Fear Community College announced that Dan Saklad pledged $3 million to name a school building the Dan and Sheila Saklad Health and Human Services Center. It ranks as the largest naming gift received by the college.

Craven Community College received a $10,000 grant from First Citizens Bank for Volt Center scholarships. Those scholarships will go toward workforce training and trade certifications to unemployed, underemployed, and justice-involved individuals in the community.

Fayetteville Technical Community College and Vance-Granville Community College announced a partnership to make it possible for VGCC students to attend FTCC’s funeral service program.

First Lady Jill Biden visited Forsyth Tech last week. Her visit coincided with the announcement of a $30 million dollar investment from the National Science Foundation:

Half of the funds will go to what’s called the “Piedmont Triad Regenerative Medicine Engine.”

The regional team includes Forsyth Tech, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the RegenMed Development Organization, and Winston-Salem State University. It will be led by the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

Richmond Community College has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CD) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to a release from the college.

Other higher education reads

Governor Proposes ‘Bold’ Plan to Restructure Pennsylvania Higher Ed

The proposed restructuring of Pennsylvania’s higher education system caught my eye last week. Inside Higher Ed has the details:

Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro on Friday announced plans for a sweeping overhaul of the state’s higher education system as part of an initiative focused on workforce development and boosting college access, maintaining affordability and shoring up 25 state institutions.

The multipronged approach includes consolidating the governance of two- and four-year institutions at a time of limited state resources and a greater supply of colleges than students. It also includes a new funding formula.

Under the new proposal, 10 public universities which are part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and all 15 of the state’s community colleges would come under the purview of one governing body but would remain independent institutions. There are no current plans to close campuses, cut staff or merge any of the individual institutions, according to Emily Roderick, a spokesperson for the governor.

The plan also includes a significant tuition reduction for low- and middle-income students, requiring them to pay only $1,000 per semester instead of the average $7,716 it normally costs to attend a PASSHE institution. The proposal would set up an increase in state funding based on a new formula based partially on institutional performance.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.