The ballooning debt faced by 13 of Ohio’s four-year public universities has spiraled out of control in recent years, nearly tripling in the last decade as the schools tackled deferred campus maintenance projects on classroom buildings, dorms and recreation centers, The Associated Press reports.
According to the media outlet, at The Ohio State University, for example, municipal maintenance leaders recently finished refurbishing the recreation center and student union, which sent the school’s maintenance-related debt up fourfold. The university currently has the most debt out of any four-year school in Ohio at $2.5 billion – more than four times its debt levels in 2002.
Now, future students will have to foot the bill to pay for this generation’s new equipment, according to the Columbus Dispatch. In January, Moody’s Investment Services lowered its outlook for university-level schools because of problems like those seen at Ohio State. Jim Petro, who recently retired from the high-education chancellor at the school, conceded that the school has terrible problems stemming from poor maintenance management.
The media outlet stated that Ohio State issued $500 million in 100-year bonds in 2011. The record-setting century bond program was based on low interest rates that would give it the necessary funds to complete a $1.1 billion expansion to its medical center and dorms.
Miami University is also putting together funds to perform needed maintenance on its dorms, some of which have not been repaired since 1929.
David T. Creamer, Miami’s vice president for finance and building, stated that the school is “improving what we have and building only what we need.”
In order to bring total costs of the renovation down, the school had to lower the scope of the renovations on its student union. The original facility was built in 1957, but now must contain a 167 percent rise in enrollment since that period.
According to the news source, the University of Akron has also spent millions to repair campus facilities. In the last 13 years, the school has invested more than $600 million.
All told, Ohio’s colleges have spent more than $5 billion in deferred maintenance.
All renovation activity must adhere to standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which conducts random inspections to ensure standardized maintenance.
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