- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2002

NORFOLK (AP) Worried that the General Assembly's budget threatens a desegregation agreement with the federal government, Norfolk State University's Board of Regents plans to ask Gov. Mark R. Warner for more money.
The state budget, which Mr. Warner, Democrat, must act on before the April 17 veto session, does not touch dollars specifically tied to the agreement, signed in the fall by the state and the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. But it does eat into the university's overall budget, and NSU officials say that's a problem.
The budget on Mr. Warner's desk cuts about $800,000 from the school's 2001-02 budget and is about $4 million less than Mr. Warner or his predecessor proposed spending in the next two years.
"The reason we were provided more money is because we were inadequately funded to begin with," NSU President Marie V. McDemmond said at the board's Finance Committee meeting Friday. "When you take out of the base … what we have is even more of an inadequate base."
The agreement would fulfill Virginia's commitment to desegregate its colleges. It calls for 12 new academic programs and a number of facilities improvements at NSU and Virginia State University, the two historically black universities supported by the state. It does not specify a price tag, but state officials have estimated a cost of $20 million.
NSU officials want Mr. Warner to find another $5 million for the school's operating budget through the 2004 fiscal year and add $4.3 million for technology wiring into a bond proposal slated to go before voters this fall.
Delegate Lacey E. Putney, Bedford independent, said he and the other state budget conferees felt the budget "in no way" violates the agreement.
"We were well aware of their concerns and tried to be absolutely certain no violence would be done to the obligations in the OCR agreement," he said. "We thought we did our very best to fund not only those two universities, but all of the higher education institutions … based on the revenue available to us."
Meanwhile, NSU's Finance Committee delayed a decision on how much to raise tuition. Miss McDemmond presented three scenarios with increases ranging from 5 percent to 9 percent for in-state students and from 14 percent to 32 percent for out-of-state students.
The committee decided to wait until after Mr. Warner signs a state budget and other colleges announce tuition rates for next year before settling on an increase. The committee also deferred approval of the university's 2002-03 operating budget, which now stands at about $117 million, until May.


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