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State funding for community colleges: What does it mean?

May 25, 2012
By Christopher Duree, Ph.D. - Iowa Valley Community College Chancellor , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The legislative session for 2012 has now closed. Not to anyone's surprise, funding for education was a critical topic of discussion and compromise. The general public hears about a wide spectrum of related issues and I am frequently asked: "What exactly are the legislators talking about?" Understandably, if you do not work with the funding variables day in and day out, the topics selected by the news stations usually only touch "the tip of the iceberg." So what do State General Aid, ACE Infrastructure Funding, Maintenance Infrastructure Funding, and Workforce Training and Economic Development Funding mean? More importantly, what does all of this mean to our stakeholders?

State General Aid (SGA) is the funding that all publicly supported education institutions receive from the state to support our unrestricted operating budgets, or Fund 1. Educational programs, salaries, maintenance and equipment, student services, utilities, etc. are a few of the many areas that SGA supports. The reason that public schools keep a close eye on the appropriations of SGA is really quite simple. When the SGA is scaled back due to shortfalls in the state's revenue sources, services are reduced, jobs are cut, and tuition is increased.

The ACE infrastructure funds are labeled as such because they fund exactly what the term implies. These dollars are used for upgrading the capacity of our credit career and technical education program facilities to better serve and link the skills they need to meet the demands of local employers who anticipate expanding their workforces. The Maintenance Infrastructure Fund is targeted to assist our community colleges with meeting safety and security needs as well as meet requirements associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.

Article Photos

Christopher Duree

The Workforce Training and Economic Development Fund is also critical to community colleges in meeting our mission to provide state-of-the-art programming through career academies, retraining of the workforce, and both credit and non-credit career and technical education programs.

In short, each of the funding streams that community colleges receive through state appropriations are vital in our ability serve a multitude of needs in the communities we serve. This year's funding has been better than expected, which minimizes the overall impact on our institution. Our legislators from the Iowa Valley Community College District have demonstrated strong levels of respect and support for the work we do, and I take this opportunity to thank them for making education in Iowa a priority.

Dr. Christopher Duree is Chancellor of Iowa Valley Community College District, which operates Marshalltown Community College, Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa Valley Continuing Education, and a satellite campus in Grinnell.



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