FAQ about High-Demand Funding

What is high-demand funding?

High-demand funding is money allocated to all of the state community and technical colleges by the legislature through House Bill 2158.

What is HB 2158?

HB 2158 was passed in June 2018​. The bill is sub-titled "Creating a workforce education investment to train Washington students for Washington jobs."​

How much money is it?

The state allocates $20 million each year among all 34 of the state community and technical colleges. Clark so far has received $880,000 each academic year since 2019.

What does HB 2158 say the funding should be used for?

HB 2158 Lines 26-31: "$20,000,000, or as much thereof as may be necessary, is ... provided solely for increasing high-demand program faculty salaries, including but not limited to nursing educators, other health-related professions, information technology, computer science, and trades, including welding." 

This language also applies to all years following 2019

What does the bill say is the intention of the legislature in allocating this funding?

The bill's sub-title says quite a bit about the bill's purpose. The legislature wanted to ensure that Washington state students could access the education they need to fill the growing number of Washington state jobs. The high-demand funding specifically is to attract and retain faculty to teach in those disciplines that may have a difficult time meeting the student demand, such as with the nursing discipline. In other words, the high-demand funding is to keep in the classroom those faculty who may leave teaching or never enter into a teaching career because of the opportunities and higher wages they can find in the private sector. For example, a person teaching diesel technology can earn sometimes twice the salary in the private sector compared to what they can make teaching at a community college.

How have we distributed this funding in the past?

The first time we negotiated this funding (2019-2020 & 2020-2021), the Union and College teams agreed to distribute the funding out to 17 different departments; those that were called out in the house bill as high demand and a few STEM disciplines that consistently experienced failed searches. 

The next two-year deal we bargained with the College (2021-2022 & 2022-2023) resulted in 34 departments earning the high-demand funding. Throughout the pandemic, it was easy to show with ESD data that there were more workers than positions in many fields including Business and ECE. The bill also calls out the trades as intended recipients of the high-demand funding which includes welding, mechatronics, automotive, diesel, and baking/cuisine. Altogether, we were able to distribute the high-demand funding in a way that would reach about half of our faculty - both full-time and part-time. At the time, this approach seemed like a real achievement; the College team even agreed to a stipend for all non-high-demand adjunct faculty. So ultimately half of our adjunct faculty would get the high-demand supplement and the other non-high-demand adjuncts would receive a $450 stipend. 

Why not try to distribute it out to all faculty or all adjunct faculty?

We did initially propose that the funding go to all faculty; then we proposed that it go to all adjuncts. Indeed, throughout 2021, we tried multiple approaches, including writing the sponsor of the bill, Senator Drew Hanson, to request that he explain why we couldn't distribute this funding out to all faculty or out to all adjuncts. Senator Hanson explained that the funding wasn't intended to be spread out among broad groups of employees, but rather it's meant to be distributed narrowly among high-demand programs that need supplemental salary to increase high-demand faculty salaries so that they compare to private sector salaries thus enhancing attraction and retention of potential faculty. 

How did CCAHE and the College determine high demand at Clark?

We used two criteria:

Is the department or program named in the bill as a high-demand area? If so, we determined that they were high demand.  HB 2158 names trades, IT, computer science, health related fields, and STEM.

Is the department or program a field with significant job openings or one that will experience significant job openings in the next few years? This is the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) definition for high-demand. We used data from the Employment Security Department supply & demand reports and occupations in demand lists as well as Washington Student Achievement Council Supply/Demand gap & 2020-2025 openings by occupation.

This resulted in a list of more than 34 departments to receive a supplement of 6.8 percent for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. 

This method resulted in the funding being spread quite thin. How will this help those departments that have a difficult time attracting faculty?

The funding was spread out to about 17 departments last year (2020-2021), and the supplement was 10.8  percent. Over the last two years, it was spread out among more than 34 departments, and the supplement is 6.8 percent.

The difference between last year's and this year's supplement is about 4.5 percent. The difference after taxes between the supplement last year and the supplement this year is about $170/month for a newly hired tenure-track faculty. Remember, the funding is ultimately to attract new faculty, so we are mostly concerned with how this supplement will impact them. 

We didn't think that $170/month was going to make a difference to someone who is considering teaching at Clark, at least not someone from one of these high-demand areas. Therefore, we chose to spread it out to benefit as many faculty as possible knowing that the amount of the supplement for a newly hired tenure track faculty member would not be significantly different than it was last year when we spread the funding out to just 17 departments.

Given how devisive this funding is, why not just decline to use it?

This is something we thought seriously about and actually voted to do as a negotiation team. We ultimately realized that the funding would help increase the salaries of our part-time faculty, and it would be even more unfair to deprive that faculty group of compensation that many of them very much needed. 

While we decided not to give it back, we did a great deal of research to find out how others were dealing with this problematic funding. We reached out to dozens of other CTC union presidents​, members of the Workforce Development Committee​, legislators​, WEA lobbyists, higher education leaders, the AFT president, and studied dozens of other CTC high-demand MOU's​. This research informed how we ultimately distributed the funding. 

How did the other CTC's distribute the funding?

They either:

-distributed the funding out to a handful or two of departments usually based on the salary faculty could make in the private sector or

-distributed the funding out to as many departments as possible while staying within the confines of HB 2158.

Some of the CTC's that used the latter approach also had a long-term plan to somehow find the same supplement for their non-high-demand departments so all faculty would eventually receive the same increase. Lower Columbia College and Wenatchee College were able to do this. They have about a third as many faculty as we do at Clark. In addition, these Colleges used the high-demand funding to implement increases that have been long overdue. We improved our salaries without help from high demand back in 2020. 

Is this permanent funding or will it go away eventually?

Because it's allocated through a bill and bills are actually law, it's not likely at all that this funding will just go away. The legislature has deemed this an important allocation for our community and technical colleges. Clark College and the union have very little to do with this decision or whether your department can be defined as high demand. Trying to eliminate this funding is akin to trying to reduce the salary of many faculty throughout the state. Some of our technical colleges are made up of almost entirely high-demand faculty. We don't want them to lose this income. So our best bet is to try and bring up the salary of the non-high demand faculty. 

What's next?

For now, the Union leadership and negotiation team is maintaining an objective approach to high demand and attempting to communicate as much as possible about the bargain, at the same time being very intentional in acting for the greater membership and of course hoping that any divisiveness that manifests as a result of this funding can be overcome soon. And soon, we'll be bargaining high demand for 2024-2025 at which time we hope that we can work together in ways that will benefit all of our faculty. Stay tuned.