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Ledger reports Florida Poly $25M short on construction | News

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Ledger reports Florida Poly $25M short on construction

LAKELAND, Fla -- The Lakeland Ledger is reporting that the Board of Trustees for the yet-to-be-opened Florida Polytechnic University will seek an emergency infusion of $25 million from the state legislature for funding shortfalls anticipated with building its first building:

"Florida Polytechnic University needs about $25 million to finish construction of its first building, and its board voted Tuesday to ask state legislators for that money.
The budget for the first building was planned for about $100 million, and that has not gone over budget, said Ava Parker, the school's chief operating officer.

When legislation was passed to create the university, its budget was set up to allow administrators to use what are called "carry-forward" funds toward construction.

University budgets must adhere to specific uses, and ordinarily officials are not able to use any carry forward, or leftover operational money, for construction. But special permission to do so was granted for Florida Poly for a 10-year period.

Initially, using carry-forward money to help with construction costs at the university would make sense, Parker said. As a new school, its operational costs would be limited.

But the board is at the point now where members feel the recurring operational money designated for Florida Poly - $22 million a year - should really be used to set up the academic aspect of the school.

Parker will ask the state to allocate enough funds specifically for construction to complete the project, and the amount is about $25 million, she said."

10 News reported on the potential for a budget shortfall back in May 2012, but then-State Senator JD Alexander promised the carry-over funds would be enough to close any budget gap.

TIMELINE: Florida Poly's controversial history
FOLLOW: Florida Poly news on Facebook

The Ledger reported Wednesday that the chair of the Poly trustees, Robert Gidel, felt the future of Poly's first building was safe.  But there was also concern about the speedy timetable for accreditation that Alexander had hoped for:

In addition to the update on financial needs, the board heard that a tentative plan to become accredited by December 2016 is "very ambitious but not impossible." Consultant Cynthia Balogh of MGT of America advised the board it will take about 3½ to four years to obtain Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation once an application is submitted and the process begins.

If student enrollment were to start in the fall of 2014 - a target board members say would be "pushing it" - then Florida Poly could be accredited by December 2016, Balogh said.

"That is ambitious," she said. "It's very ambitious, but it's not impossible."

For more on the controversial history of Polk County's first university, visit 10 News' interactive USF Poly/Florida Poly timeline. Don't forget to follow Florida Poly news on Facebook.


Follow 10 News Reporter Noah Pransky on twitter @NoahPransky


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