Idaho Higher Education System Received $72.9 Million For Buildings: Where Will The Money Go?

Goff Justice announces a $20 million expansion of nursing education programs

Originally posted on on April 13, 2023

(Updated, 4:12 p.m., with details from the University of Idaho.)

In the final days of the 2023 cycle, colleges and universities received $72.9 million for construction projects.

But the money will leave some work unfunded — and leave colleges and universities scrambling to cover their remaining costs.

The whole process began in January, when Governor Brad Little requested $109.9 million for higher capital projects.

Little didn’t want $75 million of that money from the state’s new Jobs-on-Demand fund — the gargantuan chunk of money that would eventually fund his Idaho Launch’s worker-training program. But since Launch won’t start until 2024Little did not have a year’s worth of required jobs funds at his disposal.

But lawmakers had other ideas for the money — like a one-time injection into high school career and technical education programs. As a result, the legislature cut the top-tier capital projects budget to $72.9 million.

And the Authority’s Joint Appropriations Committee distribute this money, roughly, on the basis of higher education enrollment rates. That’s why Boise State University received the biggest piece of the pie, and Lewis-Clark State College got a much smaller share.

Some JFAC members have described their registry-based approach as a matter of fairness. Conservatives at the JFAC condemned the idea, saying it would saddle the state with a wish list of partially listed projects.

Let’s dive in to find out where the money has gone — and how colleges and universities will spend it.

Boise State University

Little request: $30,000,000.

Approved Funding: $17,936,000.

The money will go towards a long-term project, to meet the growing need. 100,000 square feet Building scientific research It will provide classrooms, laboratories, and office space for the Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Physics programs.

Boise State graduates in health, math, engineering, and math-related fields — STEM — have risen more than 90% over the past decade, spokesman Mike Sharp said Thursday. The number of enrollments in doctoral science programs has tripled since 2013-2014.

“The state-of-the-art facility will allow the recruitment of top researchers, attract new grant funding, and preserve space better used for classrooms and teaching laboratories,” said Sharp.

But even asking for Little funding would have only provided start-up money. The building could cost $120 million, Sharp said, and Boise State is looking for donors and grant support.

Boise State hopes to open the building in 2027 or 2028.

College of Western Idaho

Little request: $15,700,000.

Approved funding: $15,700,000.

The state’s largest community college did well on this budget, receiving its full application for two projects:

  • A 35,000-square-foot student learning center, which will house a library and “technology commons,” lab space, career services and a bookstore, among other services.
  • The second stage of Expansion of agriculture and horticulturecomplete with barns, greenhouses and animal facilities.

The two projects carry a total cost of about $30 million, spokesman Ashley Smith said Thursday, so CWI will use fundraising and financing to cover the balance. The gardening project could open in 2025; The Student Learning Center could come online in 2026.

Southern Idaho College

Little request: $11,530,000.

Approved Funding: $11,530,000.

Lawmakers fully funded a pair of CSI requests:

  • A $9 million renovation project on the Evergreen Building, which houses the agricultural department, physical science laboratories, and other classes. The renovated building will accommodate more students with classrooms and study space, and host online and blended classes.
  • A $2.5 million line item that should fully fund improvements to the CSI data center, and the addition of an emergency generator that will keep online courses in session even during a power outage.

“The projects will likely take two years to design and complete,” said Spencer Cutler, physical plant manager.

University of Idaho

Little request: $15,500,000.

Approved Funding: $8,998,000.

U of I will split its share of the funds among three projects:

  • A dining hut and a kitchen in his home McCall Field Campus. The new 8,900-square-foot hostel will have room for 150 students and staff, replacing a facility that can only house 30 students. “While the structure is part of the memories of McCall’s campus for many, the reality is that it is too young, outdated, beyond its service life, and in need of replacement,” said spokeswoman Jodi Walker. U of I still needs to raise about $6 million for McCall’s $12 million project, and there’s no expected completion date.
  • Center for Plant and Soil Health, at U of I’s Parma Research Centre. This new center, expected to become operational this year, will replace facilities that are more than 50 years old.
  • a Meat Science and Innovation Center. Combining educational, research, event and retail spaces, this facility is in the design phase. U of I has a fundraising goal of $6.6 million for the project. The university hopes to open the center in 2025.

One project on Little’s list won’t get funding: a combined ROTC facility for Navy and Marine Corps ROTC cadets.

Idaho State University

Little request: $16 million.

Approved Funding: $8,388,000.

Three projects are eligible for state funding:

  • Expansion of Idaho’s Physician Assistant Program in Pocatello, the only program of its kind in Idaho.
  • Idaho Expansion Health Sciences Centreon a 22-acre site in Meridian.
  • Nuclear Research Laboratories, in support of the joint Idaho State-U of I program based in Idaho Falls.

“The university is currently working on prioritizing the three projects to determine what will move forward,” university spokeswoman Emily Frandsen said in an email Thursday. “It is important to analyze the total cost of the project and whether other matching funds are available from charitable support.”

Eastern Idaho College

Little request: $8,000,000.

Approved Funding: $8,000,000.

The state clause will allow CEI to integrate The future’s technologythe first campus construction project in over 15 years.

CEI says the 88,000-square-foot building will serve about 1,000 students, and its list of programs includes cybersecurity, health physics, and agricultural technology. The ground floor will contain an interactive classroom for more than 100 students. The conference center on the second floor will provide meeting space for approximately 300 people.

CEI has already secured the balance of funding for the $42.8 million project, bringing together grants, donations, federal funding, and other state dollars.

With the funding in place, CEI hopes to open Future Tech in the fall of 2025.

Lewis Clark State College

Little request: $6,192,000.

Approved Funding: $2,370,000.

Lewis Clark will put the state’s money into two projects:

  • Relocating Manpower Training Projects to a 6,400 square foot vacant lot on the first floor of Clearwater Hall. The college says the move will bring adult learners and small business programs under one roof.
  • Converting the dorm into a living and learning center for nursing students, and expanding the capacity by 20 beds.

Lewis-Clark would need to use other funds to cover the remaining costs of the project. “While we appreciate the support of equity financing… we will not be able to continue with our original plans,” said Chair Cynthia Pemberton.

A third Lewis-Clark project has been shelved: the redesign of the Sam Glenn complex, which houses vocational technical education and student support services.

Northern Idaho College

Little request: $7,000,000.

Approved Funding: $0.

The $7 million would have gone to a police officer training facility, including a classroom, lab, and driving range.