Tag Archives: Complete

Two of Seven Regents Universities Lose Money Under ‘Complete College Act’

The University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College will receive less money from the state in the upcoming school yard than in the current year because of the Complete College Act passed by the Legislature in 2010, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The Memphis schools are the only two among the Tennessee Board of Regents’ six universities and 13 community colleges that the new formula would have cut for the 2013-14 school year if the extra money wasn’t available, according to TBR figures.
The new outcomes-based formula takes into account the colleges’ and universities’ success in such factors as retaining students, advancing them steadily toward degrees and awarding degrees and other credentials. As a result, the schools are placing new emphasis on student success, including tutoring and advising centers.
U of M and Regents officials emphasize that the University of Memphis had positive outcomes under the formula and that the indicated reduction is due to other factors.
U of M faces a $737,300 reduction in its recurring funding from state appropriations for 2013-14 — but a one-time, or nonrecurring, appropriation of $1,976,600 will more than offset that reduction — for one year only.
Southwest Tennessee Community College is losing $2.2 million in recurring state funding and is getting about $1.2 million in nonrecurring funding, for a net reduction from the state of about $1 million. The Board of Regents is expected to approve tuition increases of 3 percent for the community colleges and 6 percent at the U of M later this month, to round out the institutions’ operational funding.
In contrast, the other five Regents universities will receive increased recurring funding from the state ranging from $893,100 at Tennessee State University in Nashville to $3.7 million at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville. And the 12 other community colleges will receive increases ranging from $463,100 at Volunteer State in Gallatin to $4.7 million at Chattanooga State.
TBR figures indicate that when the so-called “hold harmless” money — it holds the campuses “harmless” from funding cuts — ends after the upcoming school year, institutions on the lower end of the outcomes model could face state funding cuts unless the governor and legislature provide real increases in higher education operational funding across the board. They did that this year, for the first time in nearly a decade.
David G. Zettergren, vice president for business and finance at the U of M, said the university is taking several steps to control costs to compensate for state appropriation reductions while continuing to serve students. They include “streamlining, consolidating and reorganizing offices and services,” he said.
Memphis lawyer John Farris, a Board of Regents member and chairman of its Finance and Business Operations Committee, said he’s disappointed with the impact of base funding cuts on the Memphis schools

Comptroller Sees ‘Risky Situation’ in BEP Funding

Tennessee’s Comptroller is warning a pair of programs used to fund education may be in a “risky situation,” says WPLN.
A new report from the Comptroller’s office expresses several concerns with the Basic Education Program, or BEP. It’s been used to divvy out state money to local school districts since the early 90s, and the amounts are determined, in part, by how many students are on the rolls.
Those figures are submitted by the districts themselves. Add in economic pressures, the argument goes, and there’s an incentive for overstating how many kids are in school on an average day. What’s more, the report’s authors also contend two decades of tweaks have made the formula so convoluted that school systems can’t be sure they’re truly receiving the right amount.
The Comptroller’s office doesn’t accuse anyone of gaming the system now, but suggests changes are needed to remove the temptation. And it says that’s a lesson that can be applied to the relatively new Complete College Tennessee Act.

Note: The full report is HERE. Comptroller Justin Wilson is scheduled to talk about it with the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee on Aug. 27.

Comptroller Recommends Changes to Complete College Act

News release from state comptroller’s office:
Implementation of the Complete College Act of 2010 is going well, although there are steps that should be taken to improve the process, according to a report released today by the Comptroller’s Division of State Audit.
Auditors examined the efforts of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents in implementing the law.
Under the law, public community colleges and universities are supposed to create “transfer pathways” – that is, blocks of class credits that are guaranteed to transfer from one higher education institution to another.
However, through the end of last year, transfer pathways had been created to accommodate only 23 majors.
The report recommends that transfer pathways be created for all available college majors, or else the Tennessee General Assembly may want to consider exempting some particularly challenging majors from the provisions of the law. The report also suggests that colleges and universities should place more emphasis on publicizing the available transfer pathways on their web sites.
The new law also requires funding for colleges and universities to be based on a formula that includes factors such as the number of students who graduate, as opposed to the number of students who enroll.
The report suggests that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission needs to provide more detail about what types of data higher education institutions need to submit in order to take advantage of the funding formula. Also, the report says those institutions should take additional steps to verify that the data they provide is accurate.
The law calls for the elimination of unnecessary redundancies in academic program offerings. The report recommends that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission be vigilant in ensuring redundancies are eliminated. If unneeded programs are not eliminated, the report says the General Assembly may wish to transfer authority for eliminating those programs from the Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
“I am pleased that progress has been made, but this report clearly illustrates that there is more work to be done,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “I hope the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee Board of Trustees will continue their efforts to implement these recommendations in order to make sure the law is put into practice in the manner in which our state legislators intended it to be.”
To view the report online, go to http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/SA/pa11055.pdf

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‘Top-to-Bottom Review Is Done & Available Online

Gov. Bill Haslam’s “top-to-bottom” review of state government is complete, he announced in an open letter Wednesday. The results are available online HERE.
And here’s the letter:
Over the past year, each commissioner of state government’s 22 departments conducted a top to bottom review to thoroughly analyze operational and organizational efficiency. I tasked each of them to examine his/her department as if starting from scratch by challenging the current structure and functions and by asking: “Is this department focused appropriately to accomplish its core mission?”
State government’s role is to provide services that taxpayers can’t get on their own. I believe the governor’s job is to make sure we’re providing those services in the most customer-friendly way and at the lowest cost to you, the taxpayer.
Uncertainty out of Washington, fiscal constraints, and higher demands require us to transform the way we do government in Tennessee, and Tennesseans expect us to do more with less.
Through this comprehensive review, our departments are taking an important step toward meeting that goal by establishing a culture of customer service, efficiency and effectiveness.
The ideas and recommendations contained in this report reflect extensive efforts by hard-working state employees throughout the Executive Branch. Departments solicited input from thousands of stakeholders both inside and outside of state government and worked through an array of issues ranging from reducing the number of printers in state offices to organizational shifts of entire divisions.
We believe this process will result in meaningful change to the benefit of Tennessee taxpayers. While this Top to Bottom Review process is complete, this administration will continue on an ongoing basis to evaluate and improve efficiency and effectiveness in the way we deliver services.
Bill Haslam

Comish Completes Top-to-Bottom TDOT Road Project Tour

News release from Department of Transportation:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer has completed the first annual statewide tour of projects in each of TDOT’s four regions. The week-long tours, which began in late June in Chattanooga, concluded last week in Roane County. The tours were designed to give local, state, and transportation officials an opportunity to view projects under construction in their areas and to learn more about future projects announced this year in TDOT’s Three Year Program.
“Not only was it important to me as TDOT’s new Commissioner to see the work we’re doing all over the state, but I wanted to provide the same opportunity to our state and local partners,” said Schroer. “This was also an excellent opportunity to hear concerns within communities and have productive discussions about improving Tennessee’s transportation system.”
Over the course of 16 days, the TDOT Projects Tour logged over 3,900 miles, making stops in 55 Tennessee Counties and viewing 134 projects either under construction or under development. Fifty-four city and county mayors joined the tour, as well as Governor Bill Haslam and 40 members of the Tennessee General Assembly, along with representatives from Tennessee’s Congressional Delegation.
“These tours were ambitious and required a tremendous amount of planning and coordination by TDOT staff,” added Schroer. “The excellent participation we had all across the state proves it was well worth the effort, and this is something I plan to continue during my tenure as TDOT Commissioner.”
Dates are not yet set for next year’s TDOT Projects Tours, but announcements will be made as plans develop.

TN Wins $1 Million Grant to Help Kids Complete College

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee has been awarded a $1 million grant to fund innovative ways to improve the state’s college completion rates.
Gov. Bill Haslam joined other state education officials Monday in making the announcement that Tennessee is one of 10 states to receive a grant from Complete College America, a national nonprofit organization. Thirty-three states applied for the grant.
Tennessee will use the funds to focus on three areas: help students determine the courses they need to earn their degree, develop tools for students and campuses to evaluate and award credit for prior learning and provide technical assistance to help institutions achieve their specific completion targets.
The Republican governor says the grant, in addition to other education reforms the state has implemented or proposed, shows “Tennessee really is trying to push forward.”
Note: The Haslam handout is below.

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