Illinois State University seeking a bump in funding to offset COVID-19 costs

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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — A bump in funding is being requested for Illinois State University to offset COVID-19 costs.

Trustees Friday morning approved a 15.8% increase, or $11 million, in the fiscal year 2022 operating budget. School leaders say the state money would be used to reimburse the university for COVID-19 health and safety costs.

President Larry Dietz said he would also like to see ISU on the same playing field as other state schools.

“We receive the least amount of funding per student than any other public university in the state by far,” said Dietz.

Dietz said if they were bumped up to the next level, that would give them roughly $45 million extra dollars.

“The increase in that would allow us to do all kinds of things. It could potentially help us with testing and potentially help us with programs well beyond the Coronavirus,” said Dietz.

The board also approved the university to contract with local hotels. This will allow space for students who live on campus to quarantine if necessary.

Vice President of student affairs Dr. Levester Johnson said the need for the hotels is not immediate, but in case of a surge, the university wants to be prepared.

“We want them and prefer for them to be here and if that’s the case, then we have space for them on campus. But every now and then, you will have someone that doesn’t want to be seen on campus and things of that nature. We can leverage those spaces in the hotel,” said Johnson.

The hotels will be able to quarantine up to 94 students per night for 14 days.

Administrators were also given the green light to establish a lab to process COVID-19 saliva tests and to conduct the tests through the spring semester. The cost is not to exceed $5.5 million.

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