Asking students to help pay for higher education projects
PADUCAH, Ky.— Governor Steve Beshear has unveiled an idea that he says will help the Kentucky Community and Technical College System pay for new projects. It's called the KCTCS BuildSmart Investment for Kentucky Competitiveness, and it's something that's never been done before on a community college level.
The idea would use BuildSmart agency bonds to fund up to 75 percent of 16 projects at community colleges across the state. At least 25 percent of the remaining cost will come from local communities. That means money in Kentucky's general fund, which is already stretched thin, won't be touched.
The agency bonds do require an investment, though, from the 92,000 students in the community and technical college system: four dollars per credit hour, per semester. Some students at WKCTC say it's a sacrifice, but it's worth it.
At first glance, there's just a blanket of snow and a bare building, but Western Kentucky Community and Technical College has big plans for the old Kitchen's Inc. Building off Harrison Street in downtown Paducah. "I'm extremely excited about it. I know the arts contribute a lot to our community," said organizational communications major Maribel Phelps. She's ready to see some action at the at the new school site. KCTCS President Michael McCall agreed saying, "it's time to get started."
McCall joined Governor Steve Beshear, and WKCTC President Barbara Veazey in Frankfort today to announce how they plan to pay for the project. "One, it represents the single largest investment in the KCTCS system since its foundation, and two it represents the first time our two year schools will be allowed to use what's called agency bonds to fund construction," said Governor Beshear.
Dr. Veazey said the bonds will require students to pay a fee on top of tuition but insists an education at WKCTC is still a deal. "Their out of pocket expenses have really decreased in comparison to the universities in the region," she said.
Economics and accounting major Justin Jackson said he knows education can get expensive. "We have a lot of single parents, and we have a lot of people going through tough times," he said. But, he added, turning the old Kitchen's Inc. building into an art school will guarantee a good return on his investment.
Kentucky's General Assembly would have to approve the use of BuildSmart agency bonds before schools can start imposing the fees. Dr. Veazey says WKCTC has already raised $500,000 to go toward remodeling the art and design school.