College campuses in Louisiana are falling apart because of continued budget cuts to higher education. That’s according to University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson, who says deferred maintenance at UL system campuses has reached about $365 million, and that number keeps growing annually.
“We’re simply at a place where you have to make decisions about priorities in your operations. You’re making a decision between keeping the doors open on a classroom or fixing a maintenance issue. Sometimes it’s easier to make that short term decision,” Henderson said.
Henderson says lawmakers have to find a way to invest in these state owned facilities on college campuses before it’s too late. He says what would be a small issue today can become a major problem down the road if you don’t address it.
“It can range anywhere from a leaky roof to mechanical systems, HVAC systems, keeping up with advances in technology that allow you to be energy efficient,” Henderson said.
Henderson says all these things take a back seat when you have to make payroll, teach classes, and keep up with everything else that happens on university campuses. He says Louisiana is the 16th lowest funded state for higher ed out of the 16 southern region states.
“We’re funded at $1,200 less per student than the next lowest funded state. When you operate at that level of efficiency, there are certain expenses that have to be cut, and unfortunately maintenance has been one of them,” Henderson said.