Jefferson City, MO — The Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) held their annual rally day in the Capitol building on Wednesday, Feb 20. Inclement weather kept attendance slightly lower than previous years, Executive Director Zora Mulligan said.
MCCA gave out stickers with “Fair Share,” printed on them, as they look to lobby members of the Joint Committee on Education, which is currently drafting a new funding formula for higher education.
Mulligan said the new formula is the “most comprehensive approach,” in more than a decade to reassess funding for institutions of higher education. 40 percent of all full-time students in the state attend community colleges, Mulligan said. However, only about 15 percent of state funding for higher education goes to community colleges.
“In the last decade, community colleges have exploded,” Mulligan said. “There are a lot of different people that benefit from the services [community colleges] provide. Employers understand we provide trained workers, and many of our legislators are very connected to their communities which have community colleges in them, and they have a first-hand understanding of the benefits.”
Approximately 1 in 5 current senators attended community college, Mulligan said, and about 25 percent of current House members attended or graduated from community colleges.
“We find that it is pretty common that our current and former students are the most passionate about what we do,” Mulligan said. “We brought trustees, administrators and educators today, but we also brought students, current and former, and they always want to do anything they can to help us appeal to the legislature.”
Mulligan said she was optimistic that a new formula for funding would provide a more equitable share to community colleges, and that the 12 community colleges in the state were working together “better than ever before,” to lobby in Jefferson City with a single message.
“It’s always a pleasure to be here, but to have all of our members and representatives of our organization here to speak with one message, it’s the most effective thing we can do,” Mulligan said.
Three Rivers College President Dr. Devin Stephenson said he met with members of his legislative delegation from Southeast Missouri on the future of the funding formula for community colleges and they were “very supportive,” of increasing the funds for community college facilities.
“We already represent the best bang for your buck,” Stephenson said. “We educate our students at way below the cost of a 4-year university. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that spending money on community colleges is a good investment.”
Collin Reischman can be reached by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @CReischman