$1.89B higher education proposal has more money for Western Nevada College | NevadaAppeal.com

$1.89B higher education proposal has more money for Western Nevada College

With little dispute or debate, a joint subcommittee on Tuesday closed the university system’s budget largely as recommended by the regents and Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The budget package includes allocations for Western Nevada College and Great Basin College to cover their administrative overhead and to better fund Career and Technical Education programs.

The total spending package is $1.89 billion. That includes $1.23 billion in state General Fund money and $661.9 million in student fees and tuition revenue.

That’s a 12 percent, $131.4 million increase in General Fund over the current budget and an overall increase of $197.7 million when all revenues are counted.

The biggest enhancement for small campuses comes from changing the Weighted Student Credit Hours formula to better recognize the higher costs of providing Career and Technical Education programs at the state’s community colleges. The governor recommended and the subcommittee approved adding $9.2 million in FY2018 and $12.2 million in 2019 to cover the cost of increasing the contribution per credit hours for those tech classes. Those classes often require extremely expensive computerized equipment and can only handle a small number of students at a time.

Where the formula currently provides a certain amount per credit hour for base classes like English — about $155 — many CTE classes have dramatically higher needs.

They’re currently weighted at double the base amount for lower division and 2.75 times the base for upper division classes but Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said there’s still a significant gap between what the current funding formula provides and the cost of providing those high-tech classes.

“This will help address that gap,” he said.

The changes approved Tuesday would raise formula weighting for those classes to 3.5 times base for lower division and 4.25 times base for upper division classes in 2018 then to 4 times and 4.75 times base in fiscal 2019.

The funding would go not just to Western Nevada College and Great Basin but to Truckee Meadows Community College and College of Southern Nevada as well.

In addition, the subcommittee voted to continue the small institution funding to offset the higher percentage of their budgets consumed by fixed administrative costs due to their small size. The total split between Great Basin and Western over the biennium is a bit more than $3.3 million. Great Basin will get $920,370 a year. WNC will get $734,520 a year.

Altogether, total state funding for Western Nevada College will rise 6 percent in 2018 to $13.5 million and another 9.8 percent in 2019 to $14 million. For Great Basin, the General Fund will increase 10.7 percent to $13.5 million in 2018 and 16.1 percent $14.1 million in 2019.

The subcommittee also agreed with the governor’s recommendation to add $12.9 million over the biennium to the base $39 million in General Fund money for the new Las Vegas medical school. That will bring total funding for that project to $52 million over the coming two year budget cycle.

The new medical school accepts its first class of 60 students in the fall.

Agreeing the huge snowpack this winter made funding for the Desert Research Institute’s cloud seeding program unnecessary at least next winter, lawmakers voted to put the proposed $683,656 in the Interim Finance Committee rather than just give it to DRI. Subcommittee Chairman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said that would enable DRI to come to IFC if it actually needs the money in the coming biennium.

The Nevada System of Higher Education budgets must still be approved by the full Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees.