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Lawmakers Consider Increasing Funding For Community Colleges

Ryan E. Poppe
House Higher Education and Appropriations Committee

Community colleges have been described by many as being a bridge for students seeking a path to a traditional four-year state university or a career, but finding the funds to provide that education can be a challenge.

Credit Ryan E Poppe
Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie

Dr. Bruce Leslie is the chancellor for San Antonio’s Alamo Colleges and said currently they receive about 20-percent of their annual budget from the state.  He said that number used to be a lot higher.

“It used to be 33-percent, so it’s dropped around $21-million a year.  So if you aggregate that over the last six years since the cuts begun that’s about $126-million dollars that we don’t receive from the state anymore, so we’ve had to make that up in other ways," Leslie explained.

And generally for a community college system making up that money either means raising property taxes or increasing the cost of tuition.  Alamo Colleges is considering the latter by charging full-time students a higher rate than someone taking one or two classes.

And Leslie said the percentage of money they do receive from the state is tied to how successful the schools are at graduating students or having them transfer to a four-year college.

“If we are able to improve our outcomes then we get more money.  So part of what we are doing today is proposing to the legislature that the value of those success points be increased," Leslie said.

Leslie addressed the House Higher Education and Appropriations Committee Thursday afternoon.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.