USFSP business school to get $8 million in higher education budget

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University of South Florida St. Petersburg business school is one of the new projects approved under a budget deal announced by legislators on Monday.

In total, Florida universities will divide more than $250 million in state funding for a variety of building projects, including $8 million for the USFSP facility, reports Tia Mitchell and Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times.

Next year’s spending plan also includes $15 million to expand the engineering college shared by Florida State University and Florida A & M University, which only days ago appeared set for separation.

Construction projects for state universities will increase nearly $83 million in 2014-2015, compared to the current year.  Students will pay $41 million in capital improvement fees.

Both the entire Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott still needs to approve the budget, which includes $58 million to renovate and maintain existing buildings, as well as $156 million to commence or complete construction of new buildings.

The additional funding — combined with $5 million from last year — means USFSP is about half way to the projected construction cost of $27.3 million.

USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska told the Times  that the school now has “enough to sign the construction contract.” A design plan is underway, she added, and groundbreaking is projected for the fall.

“It really highlights the fact that USF St. Petersburg has come into its own,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes.

“The community has really gotten behind this project and it was an easy project to show that it was worthwhile.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.