Encourage categorical program streamlining and cooperation.
Over time, the Legislature, often at the urging of the community college system, has developed categorical programs to address specific priorities and concerns. In the community colleges, these programs were designed to ensure that: (1) students from traditionally under-served populations received services, (2) money was available to support the needs of part-time faculty, and (3) a mechanism existed to centrally fund core programs and services or to designate that dollars be spent for critical programmatic purposes.
While well intentioned, the cumulative effect of this budget practice has been to create 21 separate programs that local colleges must manage and coordinate as they attempt to focus on the ultimate objective of helping students achieve their educational goals. Further, while each categorical program benefits the students being served by that particular program, every year hundreds of thousands of otherwise eligible students go without assistance due to capacity constraints.
While the Task Force does not recommend that the current statutory and budget framework of categorical programs be changed, it does believe that community colleges should rethink how we operate categorical programs. The Task Force believes that the current approach too often results in organizational silos that are inefficient and create unnecessary barriers for students in need of critical services. Further, overly restrictive program rules can unduly limit the ability of colleges to adjust to the needs of their local communities. To address these issues, the Task Force recommends that:
- State leaders (including the Legislature and Board of Governors) review the administration and reporting requirements of the various categorical programs and streamline them where needed. Reporting requirements should be reoriented away from inputs and activities and toward outcomes that reflect the student success goals of the Task Force plan.
- Colleges and programs strive to break down programmatic silos and voluntarily collaborate in an effort to improve the success of students.