Category Archives: Higher Education

Budgeting on Shifting Sand

Source: Kathy Christie, Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 89 no. 10, June 2008

The headlines are daunting. Plunging home values, skyrocketing fuel costs, declining state revenues, and a multitude of other budget worries add up to nightmares for state budget officials and school business directors. Even the most conservative observers will admit that budget cuts in most districts go beyond trimming fat and are cutting deep into the meat.

Higher Education in Wisconsin

Source: Arden Rice, February 2008

Presented here are a number of sources on the history, organizational structure, and financing of higher education in Wisconsin. Colleges and universities in Wisconsin and throughout the nation are being challenged to meet the educational demands of a growing and diverse college-age population, to adapt their curriculum for graduates to successfully compete in a global economy, and to accomplish these goals with diminishing state financial support. Wisconsin’s educational system over time has changed to meet the educational needs of its citizenry. These sources are intended to provide perspective on the transformation of Wisconsin’s higher education system.
Related:
ECS StateNotes and Online Databases
Education Commission of the States, 2008

Cost Containment: A Survey of Current Practices at America’s State Colleges and Universities

Source: American Association of State College and Universities and Sungard Higher Education, 2008

From the press release:
Public colleges and universities rank the identification and implementation of cost containment strategies among their top institutional priorities, according to a study released today by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and SunGard Higher Education. Based on a survey of 114 AASCU member institutions, the study also provides insight into highly replicable “best practices” that could produce effective cost savings and thus increase academic affordability, access and institutional accountability.
See also:
Executive Summary

The Equity Gap in State Funding

Source: Kevin Carey, Education Sector, April 14, 2008 (Originally published on Inside Higher Ed.)

In 1971, a lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court that would have a profound impact on the way American schools are funded. Serrano v. Priest was the first in a wave of elementary and secondary school finance cases that would touch nearly every state in the nation and continues to this day.

Existing funding regimes have been torn down, constitutional crises provoked, and billions of dollars spent in the name of achieving financial equity between school districts that serve the rich and the poor.

Nothing similar has ever happened in higher education. Desegregation lawsuits have brought some increased equity, but states have never had to defend the fairness of their higher education financing systems in court–at least not on grounds of economic discrimination as opposed to racial bias.

Study Shows School Cleanliness Affects Learning

Source: Alan S. Bigger and Jeff Campbell, APPA, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a direct corrrelation between cleanliness and the resulting academic grade(s) of students. In 1992, APPA published the first edition of Custodial Staffing Guidelines for Educational Facilities; the second edition was published in 1998. This seminal document set the precedent for correlating levels of productivity and cleaning of facilities and has been used as justification for appropriate staffing levels at institutions. In addition, ISSA has long established cleaning times and guidelines that also address productivity issues.

However, such data is now being brought into question as performance indicators are being used to address specific outcomes of maintenance programs. The principal investigators led a team of researchers representing APPA and ISSA to collect data, review and research relevant literature, and determine whether levels of staffing and cleaning have an affect on the academic achievement of students.
See also:
Press release

Community Colleges Under Stress

Source: Matthew Zeidenberg, Issues in Science and Technology, Vol. 24 no. 4, Summer 2008

There is a core mission shared by virtually all community colleges of enabling low-income students and those with relatively weak academic achievement to continue their education and acquire useful skills. Due to increased recognition of the benefits of higher education, and the rising costs of four-year degrees, disproportionate numbers of minority and immigrant students are applying to two-year community colleges. Many community colleges are finding it difficult to deal with this new enrollment onslaught. This article details three key challenges that community colleges face: unprepared students, financial stress, and high dropout rates.

The Grapevine Project

Source: Illinois State University, 2008

The Grapevine project entails an annual compilation of data on state tax support for higher education, including general fund appropriations for universities, colleges, community colleges, and state higher education agencies. Each year we ask states for tax appropriations data for the new fiscal year, and we also ask for revisions (if any) to data reported one year ago, two years ago, five years ago, and ten years ago. Updated state reports are entered on the Grapevine web site as they are received from May through December of the calendar year. After entering all 50 state reports on our web site, we construct the following tables:

• state rankings on one, two, five and ten-year percentage changes;
• annual average five-year percent changes in state tax appropriations;
• one- and two-year percent changes in state tax appropriations by region;
• state tax appropriations per capita and per $1,000 of personal income;
• state tax appropriations for community colleges; and
• state and local (aggregated) tax appropriations per capita and per $1,000 in personal income.

Facility Planning: School Renewals

Source: James E. Rydeen, American School and University, June 1, 2008

1950s-’60s schools: Obsolescence or longevity?

Forty-three percent of existing public schools were built in the 1950s-’60s era. This era seems to have gained the reputation of cheap, energy-inefficient buildings that were not intended to last more than 30 years.

A study at one school district estimated it would cost $2.1 billion to fix its aging buildings. Many buildings were well-kept and clean, but their mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were old and inefficient; the food-service equipment needed replacing; and the facilities did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most of the buildings are only 30 to 50 years old and are showing signs of water damage, and wear and tear.

Experience has proven that public schools must be designed for long-term use — much longer than 30 years.

Many institutions keep up with most of their annual facility maintenance, but not with replacing major systems and equipment because annual budgets cannot cover the costs. Avoiding such dilemmas requires planning, scheduling and budgeting for the eventual upgrades.

Great Colleges to Work For

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, July 18, 2008

The results of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey of Great Colleges to Work For are based on responses from more than 15,000 administrators, faculty members, and staff members at 89 colleges and universities.

Each was asked to submit a list of employees randomly selected across three categories: administration, faculty, and professional support staff. The sample size, either 400 or 600, was based on the number of employees in those categories. Of the more than 15,000 respondents, 4,003 identified themselves as administrators, 5,840 as faculty members, and 4,262 as professional support-staff members. All were asked to respond to 70 statements using a five-point scale. The questionnaire also asked respondents to rate their satisfaction with 15 different benefits; respond to two open-ended questions; and answer 14 demographic questions relating to gender, age, ethnicity, marital status, salary, tenure status, and other job issues. ModernThink’s survey is based on an assessment tool used in over 55 “Best Places to Work” programs with more than 4,000 organizations.