The state Board of Regents will meet in Missoula this week to discuss a new health care training program, the refinancing of bonds and construction of a new athletic facility at the University of Montana.
Gov. Steve Bullock may also attend the meeting to discuss his biennial budget, its proposed freeze on college tuition and an expansion of performance-based funding.
“We’re expecting the governor to be there on Thursday to give an update and perspective on the upcoming legislative session and the executive budget he released today,” Kevin McRae, spokesman for the Montana University System, said Monday.
Bullock is proposing to freeze tuition for two more years while expanding performance-based funding within the Montana University System's budget.
The governor’s budget proposes to increase that funding to 10 percent of state appropriations. It would also expand the criteria by which schools are measured to include research success at four-year colleges and growth in dual-credit enrollment.
Past measuring criteria included student retention and graduation rates. Bullock has said performance-based funding saves students money and makes sure tax dollars are spent effectively.
“It looks like the budget does recommend increased state funding for education programs, and for faculty and staff compensation – that’s something the regents are thankful for,” McRae said.
“Some of the regents’ priorities last spring were to maintain sufficient state funding to continue the current level of education and services, and the resources to allow us to recruit and retain faculty and staff.”
Regents will also discuss items specific to UM, including a $900,000 project at the Interdisciplinary Science Building, making room for new research staff affiliated with a $45 million study funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The agenda also sees regents discussing a new Washington-Grizzly Champions Center – a $14 million plan that includes new football locker rooms, a weight room for all sports and other athletic amenities.
As proposed, $8.5 million would be funded through private donations, including a major gift announced two weeks ago by the Washington Foundation. UM would finance $5 million through revenue bonds.
The term would run 15 years at a 3 percent interest rate and carry an annual debt of $420,000, according to action items before the board.
“The two-year education committee will also get a preview of spring policy recommendations for the EdReady product,” McRae said. “It’s a testing module that will have a role in placement testing within the system and also in student readiness. The Washington Foundation also has provided a lot of resources for that program.”
The board may also confirm UM professor Ray Callaway as a Regents Professor – the highest honor regents can award a faculty member.