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 including 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022. 

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 the following years (2021-2022 & 2022-2023).

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. In addition, there are so many diesel technician positions open in the private sector, that this diesel technician would have much stronger job protection and career mobility than teaching at a community college.

Why didn't Clark and CCAHE distribute the funding only to the departments that have a difficult time attracting and retaining faculty?

This is a great question! At this time, we don't have sufficient data to come to reliable and valid conclusions about what departments have a difficult time attracting and retainng faculty. Yes, we know that a few departments such as mechatronics and diesel are experiencing difficulty. However, we just don't have the data to use "failed searches" or "difficult searches" as the criteria to determine what departments are high demand, expecially not to the extent that we could distribute $880,000 in a data-informed manner. Put simply, we just haven't the hiring data to show which departments will and will not be able to attract faculty. This is the case at the other state CTC's as well. In fact, only one high-demand MOU lists "failed searches" as a criteria for determining high-demand departments. 

Another issue is the fact that enrollment is low, and while the legislative intent of HB 2158 is to train a state-wide workforce, the state CTC's just don't have the enrollment to inform how this funding should be distributed. This funding is meant to ensure that we have the faculty to meet our student demand. Unfortunately, our enrollments are so low that this just isn't a problem in most disciplines. So distributing the funding according to the legislative intent is challenging. 

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 need. 

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 they

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

Some of the CTC's who 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. This is the plan we adopted. 

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 6.3 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. This year, it was spread out among more than 34 departments, and the supplement is 6.3 percent.

The difference between last year's and this year's supplement is about 4.5 percent. The difference after taxes between the supplment 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.

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 the plan moving forward?

Our parent union, WEA, and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) are very aware of the devisiveness of this funding and have begun building a coalition between faculty, college presidents, union leaders and SBCTC representatives to tackle this problem at the next legislative session which is coming up in less than a year. The goal is to convince the legislature to allocate funding to non-high-demand departments. The goal for our union is to try and ensure that we are all getting the same supplement, and that those departments that have a hard time attracting faculty are receiving enough to alleviate that problem. 

What kind of progress has been made with this plan?

WEA lobbyist Simone Boe said, "There's broad agreement among SBCTC/unions that salaries for non-nursing/non-high demand faculty need to be raised.​ We will be bringing to the next legislative session a proposal around salaries that is supported by presidents, SBCTC, faculty.​ Work started this week on the long-term strategic advocacy task force to start this conversation.​Our hope is that rather than the compensation creating divisions among faculty that we start organizing the nurses and high-demand faculty to be part of the organizing efforts to increase salaries across the board."​

Stay tuned. We'll be reaching out and letting you know how you can get involved!