Missouri Western is potentially in line to receive an additional $600,000 in funding next year. The Missouri Legislature is currently in the process of debating on an approximate 3 percent increase for higher education funding across the state.
At this point, the outcome of House Bill 3 is in the hands of lawmakers in Jefferson City; however Vice President for Financial Planning and Administration Dr. Cale Fessler is optimistic that the bill will be signed as it currently reads.
“I think there is some level of consensus between the governor and the Republicans and Democrats that state revenues are going to go up a little over 3 percent next year, so higher education has pushed for that 3 percent increase.” Fessler said.
What is performance funding?
Missouri Western must currently meet five criterion in order to receive the maximum amount of funding from the state budget. The current criteria includes freshman to sophomore retention rate; a six-year graduation rate; the quality of education that focuses on improvements in assessment of educational outcomes; financial responsibility, or the percentage of expenditures toward core mission and applied learning outcomes which deals with outside projects; and accomplishments of students.
While the administration believes that an increase in performance funding is the right move, Missouri Western President Dr. Robert Vartabedian pointed out a drawback to this proposal.
“I wish I could turn back the clock and I wish last year was this year because we had five percent to work with, and this year we have 2.7 percent at best. And, since we hit all five out of five, it would have been great to be dealt with a decent chunk of money and so this year this chunk of money isn’t as consequential to our unfunded mandatories, but that repair and renovation money that’s huge,” he said.
Another proposal that Vartabedian is looking forward to is currently being deliberated in the Missouri Senate.
“The other thing that is perhaps more important to us would be the repair and renovation bill that is going through that looked like a sure thing, and then as of late it has hit some rocky road and that translates to a significant amount of money for us – about $4.8 million – whereas the increases are a little over $600,000, greatly offset by the $400,000 of unfunded mandatories,” Vartabedian said.
If and when House Bill 3 is passed, it will be for the fiscal year of 2016. However, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeanne Daffron stated that there is a change coming to the performance funding evaluations.
“They are adding one for next year, and it’s something we’re really thinking about to give the most accurate measure,” Daffron said. “It’s a measure of our graduates in any given year and their placement, so are they in position that requires the level of education that they got at our institution.”
Whatever happens, the administration has been pleased with the way in which Missouri Western has performed and been evaluated for the performance funding standards.
“It’s certainly positive news for us but at this point in time, we’re kind of like every other school out there: we’re just following the process and providing our input and support for as much dollars for higher education as the state can afford,” Fessler said.
“When you look at hitting five out of five performance standards, when you look at the uniformly successful accreditation outcomes and you look at the limited resources in which we do all that, I think it’s something to be very proud of,” Vartabedian said.
The Legislature is currently planning on having the performance funding bill sent to the governor by the end of April.