Gov. Nikki Haley says she wants to see colleges run like businesses, using a model called Accountability-based funding (ABF) to award state money for meeting certain criteria, including graduation rates, use of funds, in-state students, etc.
But colleges, some of them the site of older or historic buildings, are asking for money for their infrastructure and repairs put off throughout the recession, known as “deferred maintenance” by budget writers
One of those schools is The Citadel, ranked the top public university in the South by U.S. News and World Report , a comprehensive (liberal arts-based) college with military programming.
“It is exciting to see that this is moving forward,” Lt. General John Rosa says about the ABF idea. “The Citadel very much supports accountability-based funding. We believe that the measures of merit that are working –and we have not closed them all out–graduation rates, jobs, taking care of the economy, The Citadel right now does pretty well.”
But this legislative session, he says he’ll be talking to lawmakers about deferred maintenance.
“The last figure I saw was $1.2 billion, deferred maintenance on buildings around state-owned colleges, campuses and its a big issue. We’ve go to address that. That’s probably one area where going to ask for more help. we got a little bit of help last year from the state but its a continuing problem. These buildings are getting old, they’ve got to be maintained just like you maintain your automobile,” says Rosa.
“The reason that we have the deferred maintenance issue is we’ve never really addressed this as a state and I think we’ve got to get our arms around it and its growing as we are standing here speaking.”
Governor Haley says the colleges will have to consider better ways to curb these costs, including moving away from brick and mortar classrooms to more online offerings.
State legislator Chip Limehouse agrees that virtual classrooms are the model for a longterm solution, but now, “The deferred maintenance problem is a fiasco, we’ve got more than $1 billion dollars in deferred maintenance and nobody’s got the checkbook to underwrite that.”
“The bricks and mortar colleges, yes, there will always be a need for that, the full college experience. But we can’t afford to put the roofs on the buildings we have, much less build a new building. That’s how critical the situation is,” Limehouse says. “The answer, I don’t have, but I know it’s a big problem out there.”