Reporter’s notebook

  • New Jersey governor proposes more cuts
  • Drone training programs that are flying high
  • Exceptional programs that help Latino students
  • LACCD buys more tech devices for students
  • Google apprenticeships in California
  • Tool and die apprenticeships in Tennessee

New Jersey governor proposes more cuts

Gov. Phil Murphy is proposing a $25 million cut in state operating aid for community colleges for the next fiscal year (FY). That’s on top of the $34 million reduction in state operating aid in the current fiscal year, according to the state’s two-year college system.

Overall, Murphy’s proposed $40.1 billion budget would slash about $1 billion in spending, add higher taxes on millionaires and take on $4 billion in new debt in order to fill financial gaps resulting from the pandemic.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC), which represents the state’s 18 community colleges, sees the proposal as shortsighted, given the role that the colleges are expected to play in helping unemployed residents get trained for available jobs. It is asking the legislature to fund community colleges at pre-pandemic levels for FY 2021.

“This total reduction of $59 million in state aid will undermine the ability of community colleges to provide open and affordable access to a college education and to economic opportunity for our residents,” the council said in a release. “These reductions, if enacted, will threaten the viability of some community colleges, lead to tuition increases for students, and will limit the ability of colleges to provide industry-relevant training to those who are unemployed. Funding from the federal CARES Act has been helpful but because of its restrictions does not make up for the loss of state operating aid.”

The state’s two-year colleges serve more than 300,000 residents each year, according to the council. Over 200,000 students – more than half of all undergraduate students in public colleges and universities in New Jersey – are enrolled in credit and degree programs at community colleges. In addition, NJCCC noted that the colleges have an impact of $9 billion on the state’s economy.

Drone training programs that are flying high

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected 26 associate degree-granting institutions to participate in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI). The program recognizes institutions that prepare students for careers in unmanned aircraft systems, or drones.

Selected colleges must provide curriculum covering various aspects of UAS training, including hands-on flight practice, maintenance, uses, applications, privacy concerns, safety and federal policies concerning UAS.

MiraCosta College is among 26 associate degree-granting institutions receiving FAA designation for their drone training programs. (Photo: MiraCosta College)

“Our students are seeing the tremendous potential with UAS technology, with everything from power line inspections to the expansive precision agriculture program itself, which gives them a leg up on FAA certification and career advancement,” said Brad McCullouch, district director of commercial aviation programs at Hinds Community College in Mississippi, which is among the selected colleges. “This program adds a dimension to our commercial aviation program that allows Hinds Community College to provide the full spectrum of career opportunities for our students.”

FAA launched the UAS-CTI program in April. Participating institutions will engage with the FAA, other participants, general industry, local governments, law enforcement and regional economic development entities to address labor force needs.

Postsecondary institutions with UAS curricula seeking recognition as UAS-CTI partners may still apply for this distinction.

Exceptional programs that help Latino students

Excelencia in Education, an advocate for accelerating Latino student success in higher education, has announced 20 evidence-based programs across the U.S. as finalists for its 2020 Examples of Excelencia – including six community colleges.

The finalists provide strategies for advancing equity for Latino students, according to Excelencia. Among this year’s honored programs are:

Learn more about the selected two-year college programs.

LACCD buys more tech devices for students

The Los Angeles Community College School District (LACCD) is starting to distribute more than 14,800 Surface Go devices to students who need them and have enrolled at one of its nine colleges this fall.

The district will give away about half of the devices to students with financial need, and the other half it will distribute as loaners. The district’s board of trustees earlier this month unanimously approved an emergency purchase totaling nearly $3 million for the devices.

About 4,000 Chromebooks already have been distributed at no cost to L.A. College Promise students as part of the district’s free-tuition program. A second bulk order for about 7,500 devices is planned for October, LACCD said. In the spring, the district distributed about 12,000 devices.

To date, LACCD will purchase and distribute nearly 40,000 Chromebooks or Surface Go devices to students since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Google apprenticeships in California

San José City College (SJCC) is working with Google to train eight apprentices as part of Google’s first U.S. Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship program.

Apprentices will complete two months of online coursework through SJCC to earn the Google IT support professional certificate. After, they will work for one year assisting Google’s Sunnyvale office as IT support specialists.

“This program will provide a pathway to high-quality IT jobs in Google’s offices during this tough economic time,” said Lena Tran, vice president of strategic partnerships and workforce innovation at SJCC.

Tool and die apprenticeships in Tennessee

Newell Brands in Maryville, Tennessee, kicked off a new apprenticeship program this summer, with Pellissippi State Community College as the sponsor.

The partnership marks a first for both organizations: While Pellissippi State has supported apprenticeships with area businesses for years, this is the first time the college is sponsoring a program. For Newell Brands, it is the company’s first apprenticeship program, though the college has provided training for the company for many years.

Newell Brands employees Kyle Sanchez (left) and Seth Hartley will receive their journeyman tool-and-die maker certifications upon completing their apprenticeships, which are sponsored by Pellissippi State. (Photo: Pellissippi State)

Newell Brands’ expansion of its tool room and molding department this year created a need for more tool-and-die makers.

“This position is one that is becoming more and more difficult to find qualified journeyman workers to fill,” said Aaron Myers, tool room supervisor at Newell Brands. “We decided to partner with Pellissippi State and their new tool-and-die maker apprenticeship program. We all believe that one of the best ways to cultivate a positive culture is to promote from within.”

Newell Brands had two employees start the apprenticeship program this summer. They will receive their journeyman tool-and-die maker certifications upon successful completion of their apprenticeships.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.