The state’s university system board of governors on Wednesday approved a plan to ask lawmakers for $ 800 million that would be used to resolve a backlog of facilities issues on most campuses.
If approved in the legislative session that begins on Tuesday, the money would cover about half of the universities’ collective needs. Schools last month said they needed about $ 1.68 billion to repair aging buildings.
Only Florida Polytechnic University, the system’s newest school, has said it doesn’t need facility maintenance projects.
Kevin Pichard, director of finance and facilities for the university system, said $ 800 million “would go a long way to helping universities meet the most critical needs of that $ 1.6 billion figure.”
The money would go to improving facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, gymnasiums and offices. The average age of these institutions across the university system is 31 years old.
“Using the analogy of a house… if you bought a house 31 years ago and didn’t make any capital improvements, guess what? It’s time. Your roof must be replaced, your air conditioner must be replaced, your furnace must be replaced. And that’s really what we’re dealing with, ”Pichard said at Wednesday’s board meeting.
The money would be allocated according to a calculation taking into account the size and age of each university’s facilities. Marshall Criser, chancellor of the university system, said campus facility projects will be prioritized according to their urgency.
“Whatever amount the legislature ultimately chooses to commit to this regard, we are going to meet the highest and most important needs of the system. It really means prioritizing projects, perhaps, rather than institutions. And from that point of view, it has equity, ”Criser said.
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