University pays fire science bonds, freeing student fees for student needs
The University of Nevada, Reno, won approval Tuesday to use more than $8.3 million in unanticipated nonresident tuition revenue to pay off the bonds that financed the fire Science Academy in Elko County.Those bonds were a sore point with students on the campus because they were hit with an extra $6.50 per credit hour taken to pay the bonds. Students argued unsuccessfully for years that they get no benefit from the academy that ended up an expensive failure.University President Marc Johnson told Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, this and money raised from other university land sales will eliminate the $24 million in construction debt. He said in discussions with students, the university has agreed the first project paid for by that fee money will be a student achievement center that brings together in one location all the services including math and other tutoring, counseling, disability services and veterans support among others.He said the center will be dedicated to providing the services that help students graduate with a degree.After that debt is paid off, Johnson assured the Interim Finance Committee that the fees will be used for other projects that benefit students.When the Fire Science Academy was finally closed down and sold to the Nevada National Guard, it had generated a total of $40 million in operational, construction and reclamation debt. Johnson said there is still some reclamation work going on at the site but that the remaining debt is down to $10-$12 million.