Bonds proposal submission remains undecided

Julie Sickel

President Lester Lefton formally submitted a $210 million bonds proposal to Chancellor Jim Petro of the Ohio Board of Regents in April as part of a $250 million campus renovation plan.

Now, over three months later, the only news is, there is no news.

“We don’t have anything new on our end as it relates to the bonds,” said Kim Norris, director of communications for the Ohio Board of Regents.

Lefton said he also has no new information to report on the bonds.

After the bonds were submitted April 20, Petro opened the proposal to public comment until April 29, after which he had the power to accept or deny the bonds — something he has yet to do.

“My consideration of this proposal is influenced by the documented need to address these urgent maintenance and renovation projects at Kent State University and the realistic constraints of the state budget to provide alternative funding,” Petro said in a press statement April 20.

If passed, the bonds would initiate a student fee structure that would charge $7 per credit hour in 2013; that amount would increase to $24 per credit hour by 2016.

Campus renovations at other universities are normally paid for by tuition alone, but because tuition is already lower than other Ohio universities, the special fees are needed for a renovation of this scale, Lefton said previously.

“I expect that (Petro) will see the value of academic buildings as opposed to a football stadium that only gets used seven days a year,” Lefton said in April. “We’re in the academic business here.”

Lefton previously submitted the $210 million proposal to former Chancellor Eric Fingerhut in Fall 2010, hoping to take advantage of low-interest Build America Bonds. Fingerhut neglected to approve the proposal before the December 31 expiration date of the low-interest bonds because the fee structure to students challenged affordability.

The planned renovations will improve 30 buildings across campus. Lefton said one of the priorities would be redevelopment of the campus’ science corridor in order to expand on education and research opportunities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.