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Walkout at Seattle Central part of call for state to provide more funding for community colleges

Students joined faculty and staff at walkouts across the Seattle Colleges system Tuesday including a rally on Broadway outside Seattle Central to support legislation currently being considered in Olympia to more fully fund Washington’s community and technical colleges.

“The walkout is intended to illustrate the crisis faced by the community and technical colleges (CTC) because of the State Legislature’s failure to adequately fund programs, salaries and student support,” organizers from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) local 1789 wrote. “For over a decade, the State has covered only 65% of college expenses, while increases in student tuition, budget cuts, and reserve money have attempted to cover the gap.”

Though Tuesday’s sign making and marching happened on Capitol Hill, participants wanted the message to be heard in Olympia.

The ROC — (Re)invest in Our Colleges — campaign has three goals, Seattle Central’s student paper reports:

increase funding to Community and Technical Colleges by $500 million, fund cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) 100% instead of asking 65% and increase salaries 12% this year to match peer states

A bill currently being considered could help the goals to be achieved. The “Reinvesting in our college program” legislation would appropriate $250 million a year over the next two fiscal years to help fund community colleges and technical schools in the state while requiring schools to meet certain standards including creation of “an office of diversity, equity, and inclusion” and providing “additional compensation for faculty and staff who 15 work with incarcerated populations.”

The Seattle College District’s total budget across its colleges and technical schools is more than $190 million a year. Washington is home to more than 30 community and technical colleges.

Rep. Gael Tarleton, the bill’s prime sponsor, says that “our colleges and our institutions of learning are our responsibility to invest and grow as we grow and diversify our economy as a state.”

“It has been a long time since we have made a major financial investment in what the future of our communities is going to look like and we have all been struggling — those of us who have been here for the last six seven ten years — with addressing other educational priorities and needs, and I know our community and technical colleges have been holding on, holding their breath waiting for their turn, and their turn has come,” Tarleton said.

The proposal, which would be funded out of the state’s general fund, is currently in the House and must pass there and in the senate before the legislative session ends April 28th.

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1 year ago

Local voters passed a levy to provide free tuition to the community colleges. The legislature cuts funding. Tuition rises. This must mean either fewer students attending or higher taxes at the local level. One is astounded by the futility. This is starting to look like the public school funding mess.
1 year ago

Nothing is free. Eventually institutions run out of other people’s money.

1 year ago

Not the military industrial complex.