Our View: Renovation negotiations stuck in a rut

DKS Editors

It’s been almost two months since Eric Fingerhut, the Ohio Board of Regents’ chancellor, shot down the Kent State administration’s proposal to pay off $250 million campus-wide renovations with student fees.

The plan was to borrow $210 million in low-interest bonds and tack on a $7-per-credit-hour fee to students’ tuition starting in 2012. That fee would increase to $24 per credit hour by 2016.

Fingerhut objected partly because the students paying the fees would not get to see the renovations. They would simply pay the bills for future classes.

But now that the deadline for approval has passed, Kent State students could find themselves in a lose-lose situation. Should Fingerhut continue to fight Kent State officials who want to charge students per credit hour for renovations, the cost to students could be even higher.

According to university officials, should Fingerhut fail to approve these bonds by their Jan. 1 expiration date, it will cost the university an extra $57 million because Kent State would be forced to finance the project with high-interest loans.

This is where we take extreme issue. University officials came up with the unusual plan to pay off bonds with fees, and now students could face more fees because Fingerhut chose to stand up for students who want to go to college.

The chancellor’s office has assured the Daily Kent Stater in yesterday’s article that “we shouldn’t end up costing the university any extra money.”

We hope they’re right.

These renovations are important. Needed maintenance on campus has been put on the back burner for too long, and no one is suggesting our buildings don’t need upgrades to keep Kent State competitive.

We’re just not sure why a smart, student-centric plan wasn’t proposed in the first place. We’re hopeful the university and the Board of Regents will come to a quick compromise that keeps the cost to students as low as possible.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.