Bill seeks group for higher education funding reform
BISMARCK (AP) -- North Dakota should look at changing how the state gives money to colleges, legislators and Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Wednesday. A state Senate bill would set up a 14-member commission to come up with new ways of distributing high...
BISMARCK (AP) -- North Dakota should look at changing how the state gives money to colleges, legislators and Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Wednesday.
A state Senate bill would set up a 14-member commission to come up with new ways of distributing higher education money. Supporters said the state should peg aid to performance standards, such as how many students graduate on time, and should consider how much it costs to educate different types of students.
"This bill is a direct result of considerable dissatisfaction with how North Dakota funds higher education," Dalrymple told the Senate Education Committee during a hearing Wednesday. "It's proven over time to be very lacking in effectiveness."
It is rare for a governor to testify in front of a legislative committee. Dalrymple, before he became governor last December, was chairman of a committee that studied the relationships between North Dakota's university system and its local public schools.
The state now figures college aid based on what a school previously has received and what similar schools get in other states. Supporters of the bill contend the present method is outmoded and unreliable.
"In the past, a student in a chair was the basis for determining how much money we give," Dalrymple said. "But types of students vary tremendously in cost." For example, a student taking an online course costs less than one who is taking a lab science that requires costly equipment, he said.
The proposed higher education commission would be patterned after the Commission on Education Improvement, which then-Gov. John Hoeven established in January 2006 as part of a settlement of a lawsuit that challenged the state's methods of providing aid to local schools.
Supporters of the higher education bill said the commission worked well for overhauling how the state distributes money to elementary and high schools. The same model could be applied to higher education finance, they said.
"I believe the successes of the K-12 commission were due to their transparency in their agenda and deliberations," said Rep. John Wall, R-Wahpeton. "This would further enhance transparency in key areas of reporting for higher ed."
The governor would serve as the commission's chairman. Other voting members would be the chancellor of the state's university system, two Board of Higher Education members, the chairmen of the Education and Appropriations committees in the North Dakota House and Senate, business managers from four of the state's colleges, and a North Dakota business owner.
Faculty and students would each have a nonvoting representative. The North Dakota Student Association is advocating an amendment to the bill that would make the student a voting member.
The Senate Education Committee reviewed the bill Wednesday and will make a recommendation later about whether the full Senate should approve it. It is SB2300.