SALT LAKE CITY — Local educators have no shortage of ideas about how state lawmakers can spend any additional money they may find this session.
Educational leaders from Ogden/Weber Applied Technology College, Davis County ATC and Weber State University made presentations to a higher-education appropriations committee Tuesday, all making a case for expanded funding to develop and grow programs.
Despite potential fiscal concerns, which has deficit estimates ranging from $50 million to $300 million, the proposals were well-received.
OWATC is scheduled to receive $12.4 million in funding for the 2014 fiscal year, and is asking for an additional $1.37 million, if available, to add four new programs.
DATC is scheduled to receive $12.2 million in funding and had asked for an additional $1.4 million to expand seven existing programs, including nursing, and to add two new programs.
Weber State University is scheduled to receive $129.3 million in state appropriations and has a request of $60.8 million to builwd a new science lab facility.
Collette Mercier, president of OWATC, told lawmakers the school wants to add a physical therapy assistant program and a program for veterans. She said no school in the state north of Salt Lake has a physical therapy assistant program and the addition would fill a need. She also stressed that new services for veterans would address a rising concern and need.
Michael Bouwhuis, president of DATC, stressed that DATC has expanded its offerings with a new center in Morgan County and with renovation plans for a building at the Freeport Center.
WSU President Charles Wight made a pitch for $2.29 million in compensation for faculty and staff and $219,000 in operational and maintenance for the Hurst Center, as well as $1.6 million for programs termed as mission and equity funding.
He admits the request for a new building is the big one.
“Our priority is a new science lab. It’s a big ask, but it fills a big need,” Wight said.
Instead of stressing state budget woes with the educators, lawmakers praised the local schools for some of their initiatives.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, was impressed with the way both local technical schools are helping students learn skills that translate into jobs. He was also impressed with the amount of curriculum WSU offers online.
Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, said Weber State’s ability to reach nontraditional students is especially impressive.
“When I think of math and innovation, I think of Weber State,” he said. “When I think of flexibility, which I think is necessary, with online offerings, I think of Weber. The proof is in the pudding … You set a standard for the rest of us to follow.”