Jim Genandt and Carl Heilman made the case Monday for bringing Kansas' technical colleges and community colleges fully out of the shadows.
Genandt is president of Manhattan Technical College and Heilman serves as president of Barton Community College.
In back-to-back presentations to a Kansas House committee, the duo offered evidence of why the state's seven technical and 19 community colleges deserved greater credit for targeting educational offerings at individual and business needs in Kansas. They also made a pitch for increased state funding.
"I think the tech colleges have been undervalued," Genandt said. "We provide high-demand, high-skilled technical education to our students to meet the needs of Kansas business and industry."
He said three of the state's two-year technical schools last year made Forbes' top-25 national ranking: No. 2 North Central Technical College in Beloit, No. 8 Salina Technical College and No. 24 Manhattan Technical College.
The administrators told the House Higher Education Budget Committee of the need to improve educational facilities at the public colleges, maintain reasonable tuition rates, expand academic programs and enrollment capacity, and work to broaden transfer of course credits to other colleges and universities.
Genandt said technical and community colleges had access to $2.5 million annually in state aid for capital projects. Adjusted for inflation, the program started with $2 million in 1977 should have expanded by now to $8 million, he said.
He said the state should make $1 million to $2 million available on a five-year cycle for capital improvements at each of community and technical college.
Heilman, in his 13th year leading Barton Community College, said the state ought to restore funding of the college system to 2016 levels, which would amount to an increase of $1.5 million, and fully fund with $1.2 million a program providing high school students with course credit. The state should consider an overall $25 million expansion in state financing to the system, he said.
"We do great things, but we need dependable funding," Heilman said.
He said community college students could transfer credit for about 90 courses, but the classes were often allowed to transfer as electives rather than core courses.
"Students could greatly benefit from transfer of programs, and transfer hours counting toward their majors," he said.