Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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July 14, 2013

Ivy Tech expansion given state OK

Legislators express desire to be more involved in college's budgeting.

INDIANAPOLIS — The State Budget Committee gave the green light to $63 million in state funding for expansion projects at three Ivy Tech Community College campuses Wednesday, but only after telling school administrators that they wanted more involvement in the college’s finances.

The expansion projects, at Ivy Tech campuses in Anderson, Bloomington and Indianapolis, are coming at a time when the school is considering downsizing or closing some of its other programs around the state to make up for what school officials call a budget “shortfall” of about $78 million.

At the state budget committee Wednesday, Republican State Sen. Luke Kenley told Ivy Tech administrators that they were sending “mixed messages” by asking for more state money at the same time they were planning employee layoffs and looking at closing up to a quarter of their off-campus sites around the state.

“I don’t think Ivy Tech is a failing institution,” Kenley said, before adding the perception among some legislators may be different because of fears Ivy Tech programs in their communities are on the chopping block.

“You’ve got many legislators saying, ‘What gives here?’ ” said Kenley, who chairs the legislative budget committee by virtue of his powerful role on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the budget committee approved Ivy Tech’s plans to spend $24 million to build a new 76,000-square-foot facility in Anderson, on 40 acres of land near Interstate 69. The land was donated to the college by the city of Anderson.

The committee also approved another $20 million for Ivy Tech to expand its campus in Bloomington by adding new classrooms, offices, an auditorium and a wellness center. And it green-lighted a $23 million expansion at Ivy Tech’s Fall Creek campus near downtown Indianapolis.

But committee members also told Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder they want to be more involved in the college’s future fiscal plan because of the critical role Ivy Tech needs to play in increasing the number of college graduates in Indiana. Indiana currently ranks in the bottom 10 states for adults with post-secondary degrees.

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