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Performance Based Funding Goes to Full Ky House

Brian Jackson, 123rf Stock Photo

Proposed legislation that would institute performance-based funding for public universities and community colleges is now on its way to the floor of the Kentucky House. But that's not without an unsuccessful effort Tuesday to make changes in the budget committee.

The much-discussed funding change would measure the progress of schools in areas such as graduation rates, numbers of degrees and credit hours earned, and operational support.

Advocates like Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King say a phase-in period is part of the model. “Over the first three years of the operation of the model very little money would move from campus to campus because of the stop loss provisions," King said.

Northern Kentucky Representative Arnold Simpson voted "no," expressing concern about eventually basing performance funding on 100% of state dollars allocated. “There will be winners and there will be losers and institutional stability will be compromised. The group in three years will fall prey to the pressures that historically we’ve dealt with, powerful legislators from powerful regions getting their way," Simpson said.

Amendments offered by House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins failed to win committee support. He said the changes would have helped a school like Morehead deal with economic challenges in its service area. Adkins also said five of the seven university presidents who signed onto the funding agreement will not be at those schools when it is reviewed in three years.

In committee, Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell was asked if schools might weaken their academic standards to see growth in measured areas like graduation or credit hours earned. “I can assure you that because of our faculty and because of the accreditation process, there will be no slippage in the rigor and what our students are required to learn in order to persist and graduate," Ransdell said.

Ransdell told committee members much-debated consensus could fall apart if amendments to the bill are approved.

Morehead State University President Wayne Andrews testified about concerns regarding so-called 'equilibrium funding.' He said it won’t fully address economic declines in his school’s service area.

Two amendments, including one to exclude the majority of out-of-state students in calculating this form of funding failed to pass out of committee.

The Senate had already overwhelmingly passed the bill.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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