Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Community College Budgeting and Financial Planning Issues: A Case Study: A Case Study Which Explicates How the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Approaches Budgeting

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Community College Budgeting and Financial Planning Issues: A Case Study: A Case Study Which Explicates How the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Approaches Budgeting

Article excerpt

Background

Soon after his election in 1995, Kentucky governor Paul E. Patton instituted a plan to restructure the commonwealth's system of postsecondary education to create a more efficient system designed to prepare Kentuckians for jobs in the new era. While Patton looked at all of postsecondary education, he focused on the 29 community and technical colleges distributed across the state, many close enough to compete for students and funds. The legislation enacted to combine these community and technical colleges is known as the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997 or House Bill 1 (HB1). HB1 established the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), which joined 14 established community colleges and 15 postsecondary technical institutions, first into districts and later into 16, two-year comprehensive colleges (KCTCS 2008). The process of amalgamating two distinct systems into one coordinated system presented an immense challenge. Operating on 68 campuses throughout the state, the 16 colleges and approximately 11,000 full-time and part-time administrators, faculty, and staff are provided with leadership, service, and support by staff working from the KCTCS system office. KCTCS today serves approximately 106,500 students (KCTCS 2011).

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System

KCTCS operates as a system as defined by Merriam-Webster (2011, [paragraph] 1-2): "a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole ... a group of interacting bodies under the influence of related forces."

Operating as a system provides economies of scale in operational areas such as purchasing and staffing. The KCTCS system office also provides consolidated services to the colleges in the areas of budgeting and planning, academic support services, advancement, marketing, web services, accounting, audit services, and technology support. As an example, there may be five staff members in the system office dedicated to payroll, five to purchasing, five to budgeting, and so on. This allows individual colleges to dedicate fewer staff members to these tasks and avoids duplication of effort. Being part of the KCTCS system affords individual colleges leverage and influence in legislative lobbies that they would not otherwise have.

Being part of a system avoids duplication of programs, services, administration, and related functions. Student transfer and articulation are simplified. Policies and procedures are more easily coordinated. Tuition costs are kept consistent. Marketing efforts can be combined and a common brand projected. Synergy and best practices result, allowing KCTCS to strive toward a common vision, common goals, and a legislated mission for the state's community and technical colleges.

KCTCS has organized its work through solid planning, including three strategic plans implemented during the past decade: 2000-05 (KCTCS 1999) and 2006-10 (KCTCS 2005) and 2010-16 (KCTCS 2009). Strategic planning within KCTCS is a broad-based, inclusive process that promotes participation at all levels. Budgets are tied to the strategic plan throughout the system.

In the first 10 years following Kentucky's postsecondary education reform, KCTCS has made tremendous strides toward achieving its vision to be the premier community and technical college system in the nation. The challenge is to continue moving KCTCS toward Kentucky's long-term goals for 2020--an educated and trained workforce, global competitiveness, a standard of living above the national average, and lifelong learning.

KCTCS Governance Issues

Similar to the administrative nucleus of a four-year university, the KCTCS system office forms the administrative core of its 16 colleges. The system board of regents, president, cabinet, and 15 administrative units maintain the mission of providing leadership, service, and support to the KCTCS colleges. The board of regents consists of 14 members, six of whom are constituent members. …

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