(a) The Legislature makes the following findings related to state community and technical colleges:
(1) Community and technical colleges are a distinctively American invention. They fill a critical gap between public secondary education and the baccalaureate institutions and universities and they provide a connection between adult basic education and higher education. Their overriding mission is to provide affordable access to postsecondary education and to provide this education and related services to people who otherwise might not have enrolled in a college or university. They provide access to students who live in geographic proximity and who seek low-cost postsecondary education.
(2) As the state's primary provider of workforce education and training, community and technical colleges located in every region of West Virginia are essential to a statewide strategy to prepare students for high-demand, high-wage jobs, workforce development necessary to diversify and grow the state's economy, and further postsecondary education and life long learning.
(3) The mission of state community and technical colleges is to provide comprehensive education services that combine the critical functions of career-technical education and work force development, non-credit industry training, transfer education, developmental education and continuing education.
(4) While the student population of state community and technical colleges is now evenly divided between those who are under age twenty-five and adults who are twenty-five and older, the number in both categories who earn a degree or industry-recognized certificate within six years remains low. The declining numbers of high school graduates in the state makes it imperative for the community and technical college system to focus on increasing the numbers of adults who enroll and who complete programs to earn a degree or industry-recognized certificate within six years.
(b) In carrying out their mission, the governing boards of the community and technical colleges shall collaborate with public high schools and career and technical centers to deliver services effectively and efficiently in the locations where they are needed most.