TOPEKA (AP) — The University of Kansas is moving forward with a plan to establish a dental school despite a key legislative committee's recent denial of funding for the project.
Chancellor Douglas Girod announced Wednesday that the university will continue preliminary planning work on the creation of a dental school at the Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kansas, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .
The Kansas Board of Regents voted in June to authorize $2.5 million for architectural plans for converting the campus' old Dykes Library into a dental school, which would cost an estimated $32 million.
Former Gov. Sam Brownback also proposed adding $3 million to the board's budget for the upcoming fiscal year to begin construction on the dental school. But the House Higher Education Budget Committee voted last week to take away that money from the draft budget forwarded to the full House Appropriations Committee.
Several board members were concerned about making such a decision while Kansas is not yet in a financial place to commit to building the school and fully funding it in future years, said Matt Casey, the board's director of government relations.
Girod said the university can still proceed with the architectural plans because that money will come from the state's Educational Building Fund, which comes from a statewide property tax for university buildings.
There are currently no dental schools in Kansas. Girod said that establishing a dental school in the state would help address a critical lack of dental care in Kansas, especially in the rural western region.
"There have been two statewide oral health task forces that have looked at this, and looked at a series of different solutions, prior to this whole effort," Girod said. "And out of that came the recommendation that in the long term, we need a dental school."