In January, the Chippewa Valley Technical College District Board of Trustees authorized the placement of a referendum question on the April 7 election to raise $48.8 million. A successful referendum would greatly increase educational opportunities, but it would also increase taxes on $100,000 of property by $13 annually.
CVTC impacts every aspect of daily life and business in West Central Wisconsin. Our programs and graduates are essential to every business sector, including agriculture, construction, health care, manufacturing, transportation and business. We have open enrollment, meaning everyone is admitted regardless of ability, history or finances. Once they complete their education, over 91% of our graduates stay in Wisconsin and over 72% stay here in West Central Wisconsin, providing valuable goods and services to our residents.
Perhaps the best way to understand CVTC’s importance is to think of your everyday life. If you woke up in a wood framed home, we probably built or repaired it. We heat it in the winter and cool it in the summer. When you hit that light switch, thank our line workers for the power. Early morning trips to the bathroom and kitchen would be different without plumbing and appliances. Thank our tradesmen, machinists and welders. When you get in your car, it starts because of our mechanics. If you hit a deer or tree, our auto collision specialists will fix it good as new.
If you think police, firefighters and paramedics are needed services in our communities, thank our grads. If you’ve ever been nursed back to health; had an operation; had an X-ray, lab test or ultrasound; or had your teeth cleaned, you’ve benefited from our alumni. We grow your food; we truck it to market. We are the IT and administrative professionals that run offices and data centers. We’re the technicians, electricians, apprentices and journeymen that maintain our factories, assembly lines and distribution centers.
The demands for CVTC grads have never been greater. If we want our local economy to grow and prosper, the College must also grow and expand. We’ve seen the importance of a well-educated workforce and we know the quality of life we enjoy is directly dependent upon the quality of education CVTC provides.
The referendum funding would allow us to make much needed advancements in many areas. In transportation, we are witnessing a change from gasoline engines to hybrids and electric vehicles. This means our future and past grads will need to know how to service cars that are designed and powered differently. This change is also occurring in trucking, where many firms are moving from diesel powered vehicles to ones powered by compressed natural gas. While these are exciting green advancements, it is impossible to provide adequate training in our outdated, undersized learning labs that were designed in the 1960s.
In manufacturing we see more and more automation and robotics. We therefore are seeking to expand our manufacturing center so we can continue to be a leader in this wealth-producing industry.
We would also like to improve the training for our first responders. Police, firefighters and paramedics are facing new challenges. These individuals risk their lives to save our lives. Modern facilities would allow us to use more simulation and technology as we train our local forces.
We are unfortunately seeing a shortage of skilled workers in all sectors of our economy. In order to increase awareness and interest in applied education, we have started partnering with local K-12 districts. Last year, we partnered with 41 high schools to provide 36 academies that awarded 2,004 college credits to 347 students, saving those students and their parents almost $269,000. In order to expand these vital partnerships, we are seeking improvements at our Chippewa Falls and Menomonie campuses and wish to purchase additional land in River Falls for future expansion.
The quality of life we enjoy here in West Central Wisconsin is directly dependent upon the education we provide at CVTC. Help us help you by providing the education upon which we all depend.
We urge all eligible voters in CVTC’s 11-county district to cast ballots in the upcoming election, and in light of the pandemic that has affected our daily lives, please consider absentee or early voting.