MIBEST improving opportunities to become employed, part two

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

One of the students who has taken advantage of the MIBEST program is Wayne Halcomb, an Adult Education student at PRCC in Poplarville.

He left high school at the age of 18. Twenty eight years later he found his way back to education in pursuit of his High School Equivalency Diploma. He continues to work diligently in that endeavor while completing college courses in the brick masonry program as a student in the MiBEST program.

On March 1, Wayne competed in Mississippi’s Skills USA Competition in Masonry, bringing home the first-place state champion title.

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“Wayne has been a model adult ed student, taking advantage of the MI-BEST career pathway opportunity,” said Terri Clark, Director of Adult Education at PRCC. “He spends his mornings in adult education classes, focusing on completing his diploma. In the afternoons, he turns his attention to his masonry work.”

Mississippi’s success is getting national recognition. Recently, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) selected Mississippi community college’s MIBEST program as one of four finalists from across the nation for its 2017 College/Corporate Partnership Award of Excellence. The winner will be announced at the AACC’s annual conference in late April.

The Kellogg Foundation grant is set to expire in 2018; therefore, sustainable funding for MIBEST is needed. The Mississippi House of Representatives has introduced and unanimously passed HB 1615, the MIBEST Tax Credit, that allows Mississippians to receive a tax credit for contributions made to support the MIBEST program. MIBEST contributions are made to non-profit entities approved by the Mississippi Community College Board. This legislation has been transmitted to the Senate.

Mississippi community colleges have touched many individuals in the course of our history.

We know there are many among our alumni, friends and partners that would be willing to “pay it forward” by giving others the opportunities that the MIBEST program can provide.

The community college system recognizes the budget reality that our state is currently facing. In the five budget reductions Governor Phil Bryant has been forced to make in FY 2016 and FY 2017, our institutions have been cut nearly $16.75 million.

HB 1615 provides an alternative funding stream for the MIBEST program that will have a minimal impact on the state’s General Fund. The amount of tax credits is capped at $10 million in 2017, $12 million in 2018 and $15 million in 2019 and beyond. These funds will help pay the cost for a program that will benefit the state many times over.

The MIBEST program has the potential to impact the state like few programs before. In less than half a year, we are already seeing positive, tangible results that will benefit both the student and the state.

The main funding source of the program is set to expire in 18 months, and we are in need of a dedicated revenue stream. HB 1615 will provide the funds necessary for the MIBEST program, while having a minimal impact on the state’s General Fund. And that is a win for all of Mississippi.

By Dr. Jesse Smith

and Dr. Andrea Mayfield