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Education

W.Va. Higher Ed Chancellor Asks Legislature To Back Millions In Maintenance Needs

Sarah Armstrong Tucker - April 24 2022.jpg
Will Price
/
WV Legislative Photography
West Virginia Higher Education Chancellor Sarah Armstrong Tucker speaks before LOCEA on April 24, 2022.

West Virginia’s higher education institutions are in need of some major maintenance repairs, according to West Virginia Higher Education Chancellor Sarah Armstrong Tucker. It’s been almost a decade since they received deferred maintenance funding.

Tucker gave a presentation last weekend about deferred maintenance to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability – known as LOCEA.

“We have significant deferred maintenance on all of our college campuses [and] community colleges. There are a lot of reasons that has happened, but that deferred maintenance has continued and has grown.”

Tucker explained to lawmakers that the state’s colleges and universities have a lack of capital funding to use, and much of the maintenance they do get is paid for through tuition and fees.

“Our institutions have been hesitant to increase tuition and fees,” Tucker said. “Because a lot of them feel like they've sort of maxed out where they are, and they don't want to have this fall on the backs of students. Our facilities personnel have been really creative and have tried really hard to do the best with what they have, and to make the changes that they need to make – but the funds just aren't always available.”

Every year, state agencies are required to give a budget presentation to the West Virginia Legislature. Within those presentations, state organizations may request more funding to meet specific needs, and sometimes those requests are required by law.

If the state is experiencing any sort of budget shortfall, the legislature may be unable to provide additional funding to state agencies. This year, however, West Virginia is experiencing a surplus.

“How we fund capital projects in higher ed [is through] dedicated legislative appropriations,” she said. “So every year, when I do my budget presentation, I'm required by state code to come to you and ask you to give us money for capital projects for deferred maintenance. The last time that was funded was in 2013.”

Tucker described for lawmakers how several HVAC systems need to be replaced, windows need repairs, and bathrooms and accessibility entrances are out of compliance.

She is asking the legislature for $22.5 million for community colleges and more than $350 million for the state’s baccalaureate institutions in deferred maintenance costs.

Higher education in West Virginia, unlike K-12, does not have a school building authority to help offset these types of costs.


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