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On behalf of the students, faculty and staff of Bowie State University, I am pleased to have this opportunity to testify in support of the Governor's capital budget proposal for FY 2011. We are grateful for theGovernor's commitment to higher education and for the continuing support youand your colleagues in theGeneral Assembly have demonstrated.
We appreciate therecommendation from the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) to approve funding for our Campuswide Site Improvements project and to continue funding for The Fine & Performing Arts Center project. I will provide a brief context for the Campuswide Site Improvement Project and then address the questions posed by DLS.
Campus Wide Site Improvements - $200,000
This project is part of BSU's continued efforts to improve its campus and to replace deteriorating portions of the campus infrastructure.
We plan to complete this project by replacing deteriorating sidewalks and enhancing campus safety and security with more adequate lighting. Project design will begin in FY2011 with construction planned to begin in FY2012.
This project includes the following components:
- Create a pedestrian connection between the Center for Business and Graduate Studies and the Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) Station providing individuals with disabilities access to the station;
- Create a pedestrian connection between the New Fine and Performing Arts Building (currently under construction) and Henry Circle;
- Modify the main entrance diverting north and south bound traffic from Route 197 to Jericho Park Road to reduce traffic congestion. The project includes new pedestrian crosswalks, a new campus directory, signage, parking, and landscaping;
- Construct improvements to the Library Plaza including the installation of pavement, curbs, gutters, and storm drains;
- Construct improvements to Henry Circle by installing and repairing lights, and installing pavers to link Robinson Hall, the Computer Science Building, and the library. This component provides curbs for individuals with disabilities;
- Create a pedestrian connector at the East and West Promenade to replace the existing path which needs repair.
We greatly appreciate the Governor's commitment to funding this project and DLS' recommendation to approve it.
Responses to Questions from Department of Legislative Services
While the Department of Legislative Services acknowledges the importance of addressing facility needs at the State's historically black institutions, the proposed project does not address the critical issues of deficient academic facilities confronting these institutions. Many of the project's components could be funded outside the capital budget through sources such as University System of Maryland (USM) academic revenue bonds.
USM should comment on why this project was prioritized over other projects that would address space deficiencies and issues of inadequacy of academic space that cannot be supported with alternative funding.
With regards to project funding, no alternative funds are available to do this work. The available academic revenue bonds are going to Facilities Renewal (a critical priority recognized by the State) and to projects at other facilities.
The priority of this project is set to allow the sequencing of our upcoming capital projects in line with the Facilities Master Plan. As mentioned in this testimony the new Fine and Performing Art Center is currently under construction. We also are planning a new Natural Sciences Building and a New Student Center. In order for these projects to be successful without major interruption to the campus it is critical the Campuswide Site Improvements be completed as planned.
According to the fiscal 2011 CIP, the Campuswide Site Improvements are anticipated to affect the operating budget beginning in fiscal 2013 and involve $54,000 annually to support one new position, fuel and utilities, and supplies and materials for the project. Operating impacts are expected to begin one year later than anticipated in the fiscal 2010 CIP, due to the introduction of a planning phase to the project. Expected operating costs show a $16,000 annual increase over what was reported in the fiscal 2010 CIP, which BSU attributes to more accurate current salary and wage estimates.
The President should comment on the need for an additional position to support a project of this nature.
Completion of this project will provide the university with very detailed landscape, walkways, lighting and other passageways to maintain. The additional walkways alone will require attention to edging, and year-round maintenance, (especially during the winter season) in order to prevent premature deterioration. The additional storm drains, lighting systems and other improvements will also require added maintenance. While it is expected that some of the required upkeep will be absorbed by current staff, the level of staffing will not be sufficient the maintain all of the improvements. As our new facilities are constructed and come online the level of attention required to the campus site will continue to increase.
The Next Five Years and BeyondThe five-year CIP provides planning funds for a new Natural Sciences Building, and for the renovation of our existing science facility. The new facility will provide critical instruction and laboratory space for Biology, Chemistry and Physics, as well as state-of-the-art research and laboratory space. This project is a major priority for us and is an essential element of our plans for growth. In addition, the current Crawford Science Building has inadequate classroom and laboratories and is the major impediment to our ability to prepare scientists and science teachers and make any meaningful contribution to the STEM initiative. This new building is long-overdue and will better align our academic focus with physical capacity.
Construction of the Fine & Performing Arts Center will still leave significant programmatic challenges for us in the Humanities area which includes our Departments of Communications, English, Modern Languages, History and Government. Our plan is to replace the Martin Luther King building in order to meet current needs and future growth. The new Humanities facility will also include the University's Honors program, media operations, and production space for our radio and television stations.
Another critical element to our plans for growth is the expansion of our Center for Learning and Technology which houses the College of Education and Professional Studies. The programs of these two colleges have been historically, and continue to be, among the strongest programs for the University. The current space is inadequate and will not support even modest growth in these two areas which are critical to workforce development in our state. In fall 2008, nearly 400 students declared nursing as a major, seeking to pursue a BS or MSN degree. This is more than three times the number we can support in the current facility. Similarly, we are enhancing our education program and expect it to grow substantially over the next ten years. The expansion of the CLT building will help us accommodate growth while providing state-of-the-art instructional facilities for the education of the region's future teachers and nurses.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments about Bowie State University's capital projects and our plans for the future. Our growth and competiveness depend greatly upon our ability to enhance our facilities. I urge your full support of the Governor's FY 2011 capital budget.