Delaware Public Media

Del Tech urges lawmakers to create building fund, expand scholarship funding

Feb 13, 2018

Delaware Tech President Mark Brainard said the school has nearly $100 million in delayed maintenance needs, but lacks the money to pay for that work.

Brainard is calling on lawmakers to approve tools to help fund those repairs.

He supports legislation from Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Harris McDowell to create a separate fund for Del Tech. It would let its board levy a property tax and issue bonds to finance projects.

Brainard said the school needs both.

“Bonding authority without revenue doesn’t do really any good," he said. "If we get one-time revenues without the bonding authority, we can’t leverage it. So it’s it really is a comprehensive solution to the capital needs.”

Brainard said buildings on all four Del Tech campuses have serious maintenance needs. He added that classrooms and other areas in some buildings are closed off due to water damage.

The legislation was introduced last year. But an amendment in June by McDowell would limit the tax to 6.5 cents for every $100 of assessed value.

Brainard also urged lawmakers to expand the Student Excellence Equals Degree, or SEED scholarship.

He said scholarship program is critical for the school’s first bachelor's degree program. Delaware Tech started a bachelor’s program in nursing for registered nurses in 2016. About 187 students are enrolled and the first class graduates in December.

The SEED scholarship, makes tuition at Del Tech free for eligible students. But earning a bachelor’s takes four years and the scholarship only pays for three. Brainard hopes state lawmakers expand it during this legislative session.

“You don’t want anyone to get half or three-quarters of the way to their goal and then hit some financial barriers because the data shows once they stop out or reduce the number of courses, it’s very difficult to get back on track," he said. "So that would be a big benefit to our students.”

Brainard top lawmakers the nursing bachelor's degree program is taking off and a top priority is expanding it.