State denies funding for Joint Use Building
The final leg of NIC’s education corridor will not receive state funding.
The college was denied the $4 million they requested from Idaho’s Permanent Fund Building Advisory Council to break ground for the joint-use building that would have united NIC with University of Idaho and Lewis and Clark State’s satellite campuses.
The facility is estimated to cost $12 million.
The rejected proposal outlined a plan to have the state appropriate $4 million for two years, while the three colleges would privately raise the remaining costs themselves.
Mark Browning, vice president of marketing and communications, said the council only approved a total of $9 million for the entire state.
“Almost everything that was presented to them was not funded,” Browning said.
Browning said despite the slowly recovering economy, legislators have remained cautious about funding projects similar to the joint-use building.
“I think it’s very much the mindset of ‘let’s work first to refill those rainy day accounts and then we’ll go from there,’” Browning said.
Browning said although the building will not be a part of the general funding request the college will make this year, NIC will attempt to request the funding for the building next year.
“We’ll continue to make the case for the need. Just because the funding doesn’t go away doesn’t mean the need does,” Browning said. “We’ll look to see what we can do on our own here, we’d love for the state to partner with us, it makes a lot of sense, but in the meantime we have an obligation to the students and to the citizens of this area to our very best to make this happen.”
Vice President for Resource Management Ron Dorn said he doesn’t see the building remaining a priority for the college if it has to be privately funded in its entirety.
“It doesn’t look like they will be funding it in the foreseeable future,” Dorn said. “It might still remain on the list, but I doubt it would be number one.”
Additionally, Dorn said the need for the building may be overshadowed by other projects, such as a professional technical facility the board of trustees is currently considering constructing.
“They’re looking at alternatives, but not for that building in particular because we have other needs,” Dorn said.
Browning said a clear answer on what direction NIC’s expansion might go may not be answered until next year when President Joe Dunlap reveals his educational master plan.
The joint-use building, originally planned to be 80,000 square feet and three stories high, has seen much change in its planning since the initial proposal.
The current incarnation’s plans are 45,000 square feet, with its two stories envisioned as being a “one-stop shop” for students registering for any of the three colleges.
Browning said if completed, student accounts, registration and advising services would all be moved to the new building, with the empty office spaces in Lee Kildow retrofitted into classrooms.