Dalton State Academic Building Included in Budget to Governor
March 29, 2012
Dalton State’s long-awaited academic building took a giant step forward toward becoming a reality yesterday when the Georgia legislature voted to approve the Senate and House Conference Committee budget of $19.3 billion for fiscal year 2013, which includes $15 million for construction of the classroom/laboratory building. The fiscal year begins July 1.
The budget now goes to Governor Nathan Deal for his signature and Dalton State President Dr. John Schwenn says he hopes construction could begin as soon as fall 2012.
“We are very gratified the building is included in this budget, which overall is a very good one for the University System,” said Dr. Schwenn. “We hope to receive the good news soon that the governor has signed it so we can begin preparing for the sale of bonds.”
The budget approved by the legislature includes $326.8 million in new bond funding for USG projects that include new construction, equipment purchases, design, small capital projects, major repairs and rehabilitation, and others.
“We are deeply grateful to our legislators and other friends of the College who supported this project through the legislative process this year and actually over the last many years,” he said. “Legislators including former Sen. Don Thomas, Sen. Charlie Bethel, Sen. Jeff Mullis, Rep. Roger Williams, Rep. Tom Dickson, Rep. Tom Weldon, Rep. Jay Neal and Rep. John Meadows have made this building a special priority this session and for that Dalton State will always be most appreciative.”
“Thanks, too, to Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Speaker of the House David Ralston, and to Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jack Hill and House Appropriations Committee Chair Terry England for their support of Dalton State’s funding request.”
“Regent Jim Jolly has also been a tireless champion for Dalton State among the legislators and throughout our community and region,” he said. “We could not accomplish what we have without his help.”
The road to funding the new academic building has been a long and arduous one. The original project approved by the Board of Regents in 2005 called for a 100,000 square foot general classroom building to be constructed at a proposed cost of $22 million. The building was listed as a major project (capital projects over $5 million) on the Regents Capital Funding List and was expected to work its way up the list until funded.
The process for funding USG capital projects changed under Chancellor Erroll Davis and the Capital Funding List was scrapped; instead projects were submitted on an annual basis for consideration.
The scope of the Dalton State project was amended over the years to the more modest $15 million, 60,000-square foot facility proposed to the legislature this year. The building was also repurposed to include more science labs in addition to general classroom space.
Design funds of $1.3 million were appropriated in 2010 and plans for the building were drafted by the Atlanta firm of Lord Aeck & Sargent; local Architect Gregg Sims also worked on the project. “This building is totally designed and shovel ready,” said Dr. Schwenn who is anxious to break ground.
Funds to equip and furnish the new academic building will be requested in next year’s budget, he said.
“The addition of this science building will help us maintain the much-needed pipeline of chemistry graduates to supply our local industry,” Dr. Schwenn continued. “Our modern science and research laboratories will help us attract more science students and will benefit the entire Northwest Georgia region.”
Total state funding of $1.83 million is proposed in the budget for the USG, a net increase in state funding of $98.7 million (5.2 percent) over last year’s amount.
This year, Dalton State received 47 percent of its instructional budget from the state and 53 percent from student tuition and fees.