Texas Community College Funding Structure: Closing the Gaps While Assessing the Attitudes and Perceptions of Community College Senior Administrators
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Community colleges provide gateways to higher education and are critical to guaranteeing the future success of the Texas economy (Texas Association of Community Colleges, 2005, 1). More Texans begin their educational journey at community colleges. These institutions train individuals for the current shortages in the teaching and allied health professions. Nationally there are 1,200 community colleges which make-up 45 percent of all undergraduates. However, the funding for community colleges continues to decrease in state appropriations. Like most institutions of higher education, the immediate challenge facing community colleges are: 1) the diminishing fiscal resources, 2) increase in student diversity, and 3) the growing demands of accountability. Community college senior administrators have been challenged to balance quality education and funding constraints. In 2002, Michelle Cruz identified the declining funding and increasing enrollment as an impending crisis facing Texas community colleges. The inverse relationship between community college funding and student enrollment is further exacerbated by the "Closing the Gaps by 2015" initiative established in 2000 by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). As a follow up study of Cruz (2002), the purpose of this applied research project is to explore the attitudes and perceptions of community college leadership about current funding issues. Emphasis will be placed on the following: 1) Political nature of funding 2) Budgeting issues 3) Revenue sources 4) Alternative funding mechanisms. This applied research project, as well as Cruz's 2002 applied research project provides an important leadership prospective to funding issues which community college senior administrators face.