Scott offers aid for NVU merger


Governor Phil Scott

Prior to the Vermont State College Board of Trustees vote on Sept. 29, 2016 to unify Johnson State College and Lyndon State College, VSC Chancellor Jeb Spaulding disclosed in his report that the overhead costs of the merger would be approximately $2 million. Now, it seems that those costs will come from the State of Vermont over the course of three years.

“We were asked if we needed the $2 million now, and no, we don’t need it all now. So we provided a multi-year money request,” said Spaulding.

The request was divided into three years. For 2017, Spaulding requested $770,000 and new elected Vermont Governor Phil Scott has included that request in full as part of his adjusted budget for the second half of the fiscal year.

“It’s a big deal,” said Spaulding. “It indicates that Montpelier is excited about the potential of the state colleges and that they care about our ability to operate properly.”

According to Spaulding, halfway through each fiscal year, the governor proposes an adjusted budget to meet the economic needs of the State and institutions within. Scott’s adjusted budget includes $770,000 to the Vermont State Colleges, but the only college within the VSC system to benefit from the money will be the future Northern Vermont University.

Currently, the adjusted budget is going through the appropriation committee in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Spaulding and JSC President Elaine Collins spent time at the Statehouse working to push the bill through.

According to Spaulding’s request, out of the $770,000 allocated to the NVU merger in 2017, $200,000 will go towards the beginning stages of marketing, branding and web development, which needs to be complete by late summer. Another $500,000 will assist in covering the costs of updating technology on both of the campuses and funding the new connected classrooms.

“There needs to be technology improvements. There needs to be the same access and the same wireless standards on each campus for the connected classrooms to work successfully,” said Spaulding.

The request from the chancellor’s office also includes requests for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years. The 2018 request is for $825,000, including $500,000 for marketing, $75,000 for academic planning and $50,000 for technology updates. The following year’s request is for $405,000 with final costs for marketing, academic planning, and transportation between the two campuses.

“This is a big shot in the arm for us. It’s a message that the new governor supports the efforts to unify,” said Spaulding.

On top of the allocated funds for the NVU merger, Scott announced a proposed budget increase for the Vermont State Colleges during his budget address on Tuesday, Jan 24.

“My budget proposes a base increase of $4 million to Vermont State Colleges. In return, I’m asking them to use this additional funding to support my strategic goals,” said Scott during the address.

Scott’s proposed budget would be a 16 percent increase to what the VSC is currently receiving from the state and Spaulding believes that this recommendation shows Scott’s dedication to keeping the state colleges funded.

“While it is far from a certainty the Legislature will adopt the Governor’s recommendation as proposed, it clearly demonstrates Phil Scott’s understanding of the critical role the VSCS plays in creating opportunity for Vermonters and the State as a whole,” said Spaulding.