Call to Order and Roll Call
Thesecond meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, October 14, 2013, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Alice Forgy Kerr, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Legislative Guest: Senator David Givens.
Guests: Erin Klarer, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation and Erik Jarboe, LearNet.
The Findings and Recommendations of the Rural Access Work Group
Robert King, President, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), said the Rural Access Work Group was created during the General Assemblyís last budget cycle to see whether Kentucky should consider the establishment of a new public university in eastern Kentucky.
Pam Miller, Chair, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and also chair of the Rural Access Work Group, said life can be tough in the rural areas of Kentucky. The educational achievement levels need to be raised in order for those areas to have and create jobs. A lot of the rural areas lack access to universities and the internet, which can make it hard for people to reach certain levels of educational achievement to help them succeed. Ms. Miller said the Rural Access Work Group consisted of 30 participants from all over the state. The work group met for six months and heard from a variety of groups. When considering the direction of future action, the Rural Access Work Group emphasized building on what already exists. The group formed over 30 draft recommendations that were eventually narrowed to 19.
Lee Nimocks, Chief of Staff, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, said low education levels in regions and communities affects poverty levels, health, employment, life expectancy and out-migration. Ms. Nimocks said that after many conversations the Rural Access Work Group focused on six policy areas; college affordability, readiness and outreach, workforce alignment, partnerships between Kentuckyís two and four year institutions, addressing the needs of adult learners, and high speed internet access.
Ms. Nimocks said college affordability was the top concern for the Work Group. The recommendations to address college affordability were more financial aid, rural scholarships for coal counties, employer-funded tuition reimbursement, and state tax incentives and credits. The second area of concern is college readiness and outreach. The work groupís recommendations for this area include more AP classes through distance education, dual credit arrangements between high school vocational education and Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), public awareness campaign, and a College Coaches Program. The Kentucky College Coaches Program allows recent college graduates to go into rural high schools to work with students and their families. The third area of concern is education and workforce alignment. The work groupís recommendations for this area are regional attainment targets, incentives for ďwork readyĒ communities, and entrepreneurial certificates and small business support. The fourth area of concern is KCTCS and regional university campus partnerships. The work group recommends more joint enrollment, advising, and more complete programs, expanded offerings at regional campuses, and local coaching and support for online students.
In response to Representative Jim Glennís question regarding location of satellite campuses, Ms. Nimocks said there is satellite or extended campuses throughout the eastern part of the state and through most of the rural regions.
Ms. Nimocks said the Rural Access Work Groupís fifth area of concern was adult-friendly degree programs. The work groupís recommendations are to create a new online delivery system for adults, provide online advising and support, and study pricing of online courses. The sixth and final area of concern is high-speed internet access. The work groupís recommendations are to promote the development of E-Learning Centers, and expand affordable broadband access.
Mr. King said the Kentucky General Assembly has directed CPE to begin the process of developing a program targeted at working adults meeting all of the criteria of the recommendations for the Rural Access Groups fifth area of concern.
In response to Representative Jim Glennís question regarding broadband in public libraries across the state, Ms. Nimocks said most public libraries have access to broadband but the issue is if the facility can stay open after hours for people to use computers.
In response to Senator Alice Forgy Kerrís question regarding legislation that deals with the Rural Access Work Groups findings, Ms. Miller said some of the recommendations require legislation but many of the recommendations will be carried out by the CPE. Mr. King said creating the scholarship sources through the coal severance money would provide significant help for the rural areas.
Senator Alice Forgy Kerr noted from a chart in the presentation that Logan County is underachieving in regards to the citizens from the age 25 to 44 having an associate degree. Representative Jody Richards added he was surprised by those statistics.
Senator Alice Forgy Kerr said Midway College has an application for smart phones that allow students to take online courses through internet access and Midway Collegeís phone application.
In response to Representative Jody Richardsí questions regarding persistent poverty in the Appalachia region, Ms. Nimocks said when it comes to college affordability, there are challenges in Kentucky due to the economic standing of the citizens in rural Kentucky. Mr. King said CPE is focusing some of its efforts on the notion of entrepreneurialship and encouraging people to create their own jobs and employ other people.
Representative Jody Richards stated that area six of the Rural Access Work Group which is high speed internet access, should be moved to area one. He stated that internet access should be a top priority.
Aaron Thompson, Vice President, Academic Affairs, Council on Postsecondary Education, said according to the statistics provided in the presentation, the urban areas of the Appalachia region is where most of the success in college readiness occurs.
In response to Representative C.B. Embryís questions regarding needs-based scholarships and changing the culture of low-income families to value education, Mr. King said it would not be easy an challenge. He said building local partnerships with local elected officials, business leaders, churches, and other community organizations would help focus the culture on the importance of education.
Senator Alice Forgy Kerr stated that peers have more influence on young children in rural areas and could help change the culture more so than college coaches.
Representative Rita Smart stated she is concerned about the focus on jobs in rural counties and keeping people at those jobs.
Mr. King said there needs to be a change in the way young people think about their future. Give young people the tools and motivation to understand that they do not have to work for someone else and they can create their own business and hire people to work for them. Mr. King stated that CPE held a Trustee Conference that discussed good ideas about entrepreneurialship and how campuses can incorporate entrepreneurialship into any major.
Representative Jody Richards said roads and transportation can be a factor in education attainment levels and jobs. Where you find good roads, you usually find good jobs and schools.
Senator David Givens said a lot of rural areas are sending students to college, but those graduates are not going back home and that this issue can create some of the problems we are seeing with the rural areas not having citizens with associate degrees or higher. He said broadband access and utilization of broadband is vital in rural Kentucky. He stated there is broadband access in certain areas that is not being utilized. The private sector can do great things with broadband, especially when there is profit involved. Senator Givens also stated that teachers can have the most influence on children and can help change the culture of education in the rural areas.
Representative Leslie Combs said she enjoyed being on the Rural Access Work Group and thought a lot good information was reviewed. She said the education process is not teaching children how to think and how to create their own destinies and these should be emphasized in schools. A lot of children in her area are going to college and graduating but not coming back nor receiving a degree. This is happening all across the state, especially rural areas. She wants to find a financial way to educate closer to home those who are leaving to pursue a college education.
Senator Katie Stine said she supports using the coal severance tax money for scholarships but worries about how much longer the coal industryís source of revenue may be relied upon for those funds.
In response to Senator Katie Stineís question regarding scholarships for health care provider education, Ms. Nimocks said there is a very successful Osteopathic Scholarship Program that uses the University of Pikeville as a strong partner for developing doctors in Kentucky.
Carl Rollins, CEO, Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC) said KHESLC has the Osteopathic Medicine Scholarship that is funded by coal severance money and the amount of the scholarship is the difference between the cost of the University of Pikeville and the average cost of the University of Kentucky (UK) and the University of Louisville. Also, there is a partnership between the University of Morehead and UKís college of medicine to train doctors in the eastern part of the state.
In response to Senator Katie Stineís question regarding more physicians in urban areas than rural areas, Mr. King said the University of Pikevilleís Osteopathic College recruits from Appalachia. Pikeville encourages the recruits and graduates to stay and serve in that region. Another thing to consider in rural areas is finding financial incentives to help students minimize their debt.
Representative Addia Wuchner said the further the children are disconnected from their home communities by going to college, the more unlikely it is for the children to return home.
Representative Leslie Combs said the premise behind starting to Osteopathic School in the rural area and at Pikeville University was to train the students there and keep them there in the community.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:47 a.m.