North Idaho College made its pitch Thursday for $237,000 in new technology, but at least one lawmaker said it’s unlikely the Legislature will fork over all the money in a budget-cutting year.
NIC wants $100,000 for new language-lab equipment, $80,000 for new audio-visual equipment for classroom use and $57,400 to set up a telephone registration system. NIC President Bob Bennett said the old language lab is “beat up” and telephone registration would greatly speed enrollment.
Bennett presented NIC’s budget request before the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Thursday. The college is hoping for a 12.5 percent increase in funding. Gov. Phil Batt recommended a 10.3 percent increase for the college and did not recommend funding for the three major equipment pur chases.
After the meeting, Sen. Marguerite McLaughlin, D-Orofino, said that although NIC would probably get most of what it’s requested, it will have a hard time getting the three big equipment purchases approved.
Sen. Stan Hawkins, R-Ucon, questioned $284,000 of the budget request to fund asbestos removal.
Hawkins challenged Bennett to find a law or regulation that required removal. He suggested the college should look into the cost of containing the asbestos, instead of removing it.
Bennett called the suggestion an “excellent idea.” But he said the state Department of Public Works told the school to remove the asbestos and he didn’t think they had any choice.
“I didn’t know we had the liberty to do that,” said Bennett.
Steve Schenk, NIC’s Dean of College Relations and Development, said later that the abatement money was earmarked for construction projects that would have disturbed the cancer-causing material. “We have not tried to launch a campaign to remove it all,” said Schenk.
According to a 1989 survey, asbestos removal at 16 NIC buildings would cost over $1 million. Current budget plans include asbestos abatement at four buildings: the gym, Siebert Hall, and the mechanics and industrial arts buildings. In the gym, planned installation of air conditioners would disturb the asbestos.
Bennett said he’s optimistic NIC will get most of what it’s requested. “JFAC has always been very fair with community colleges. I hope that continues,” he said.