Washington’s community and technical college system is a large, diverse network of two-year colleges located throughout the state. The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges oversees policy development, secures state funding and sets strategic direction for the entire system.
The Community and Technical College System
The Community and Technical College System was established by the Legislature to “offer an open door to every citizen, regardless of his or her academic background or experience, at a cost normally within his or her economic means.”
Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges have three primary missions:
- To provide workforce training through professional, technical and apprenticeship programs;
- To provide the first two years of instruction for those who transfer to baccalaureate institutions; and
- To provide pre-college coursework and literacy instruction for under-educated adults, including English language classes for immigrants.
Washington’s community and technical college system has traditionally provided an open door to all prospective students by keeping tuition affordable, and by offering programs that meet the educational needs of people at every level of skill and literacy. Seven colleges also offer a small but growing number of applied baccalaureate degrees. Building the skills of Washington’s workforce has been a critically important contribution to our state’s economy, in both good times and bad.
Washington’s community and technical colleges serve nearly 470,000 people each year, including full-time and part-time students. As of fall 2011, 171,436 full-time students were enrolled in community and technical colleges, 137,200 of whom were state-supported. The average age of system students is 26 and:
- 29 percent are parents.
- 43 percent work while attending school.
- 29 percent are unemployed.
- 37 percent are students of color (compared to 25 percent of state population).
The 34 community and technical colleges are organized into 30 college districts, each served by a five-member Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The trustees are comprised of local, business, labor and/or community leaders. Trustees provide general oversight of the district, hire the local president and grant faculty tenure.
The mix of programs and services in each college district is determined by the demographic and economic needs of the local community. Colleges forge partnerships with local and regional business leaders and their employees to offer job-relevant programs.
The system has an annual operating budget of approximately $585 million and a biennial capital budget that ranges from $200 to 500 million. Colleges employ more than 21,000 faculty, classified staff and administrators. Faculty unions bargain directly with each college employer and actively participate with the State Board and Legislature. Colleges also bargain with represented classified employees but have the option to bargain locally or be represented by the Governor’s Office.
Challenges and opportunities facing the system over the next five to ten years include:
· Evaluating student progress and achievement.
· System funding, including prioritizing compensation needs within overall system needs.
· Efficiency, reorganization and consolidation pressures from the Legislature.
· Continuing to provide accessible and affordable education in the face of decreasing financial support from the Legislature.
· Preserving the balance between state and local control and decision making.
· Ensuring “bench-strength” and continuity as key people (e.g., presidents, staff) retire or move on.
· Developing communication strategies that further the system’s ability to speak with a single voice, and highlighting student success to the external community.
· Satisfying system stakeholder needs, including students, faculty, presidents and trustees, and external constituencies of business, labor,
K-12, universities and the workforce development system.
· Implementing ctcLink – an integrated technology project to replace aging student information, finance, and human resource systems for all 34 community and technical colleges.
The State Board and Executive Director
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges is governed by a nine-member, Governor appointed board. According to statute, the Governor must provide geographic balance and give consideration to representing labor, business, women and ethnic minorities when making the appointments. At least one member must represent business and one must represent labor. Board members serve four-year terms.
The State Board employs an executive director who is responsible for approximately 140 staff. Organization charts are available at http://www.sbctc.edu. Located in Olympia and Bellevue, the office has four divisions: information technology, educational services, finance and governmental relations.
The information technology division:
· Provides technical management and oversight of infrastructure and equipment for administrative systems used by the community and technical colleges.
· Manages and oversees vendor-provided services and solutions for internal and hosted IT services.
· Allocates resources to ensure that current service support levels are maintained.
· Ensures alignment with the mission and strategic initiatives when determining next steps.
· Prioritizes improvement projects and services to ensure the greatest benefit to the largest number of colleges and students.
· Maintains a complete and up-to-date service catalog as the basis for service and delivery.
· Provides IT leadership by piloting new technologies and techniques.
The educational services division:
- Coordinates and provides service to the community and technical college districts in all matters related to instruction and student services.
- Maintains agency partnerships to coordinate education services and programs – such as transfer degree pathways, welfare to work, and dual enrollment.
- Encourages the use of community and technical colleges to meet the workforce training and retraining needs of business and industry.
- Provides research and analysis to support statewide policy development.
- Administers adult education and literacy programs, the GED testing process and adult high school completion programs.
- Manages eLearning and open education resources.
The finance division:
- Prepares a single operating and capital budget request to the Governor and Legislature, representing the needs of the entire community and technical college system.
- Administers a statewide capital project prioritization analysis.
- Allocates funds received from the Legislature to the community and technical colleges.
- Provides general accounting services for the system.
- Manages the collection, preparation and reporting of two-year college enrollment information to state and federal agencies and the college system.
The governmental relations division:
- Manages legislative and state agency relations.
- Assists in the development of the policy agenda for the State Board.
- Coordinates communications, media relations, and website management.
- Coordinates the activities of the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges.
- Coordinates the activities of the Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges, which is the statewide presidents’ association.
- Provides general State Board office management functions, including purchasing and mailroom services.