Chippewa Valley Technical College could see $91.3 million in expenditures and a $2.6 million decrease in revenue for its 2018-2019 year, according to an otherwise stable budget.
The college will host a public hearing on the proposed budget at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, at CVTC’s Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire. After the hearing, the college’s board of trustees is scheduled to decide on the budget.
CVTC’s expenditure budget has maintained stability since reducing it by $5 million in 2015-2016, dropping from $96.9 million in 2014-2015 to $91.1 million the next year. The college has hovered around that mark for about five years.
This year’s expenditure proposal dropped 1.5 percent.
The proposal will also see an 85-cent decrease for taxpayers in its property tax levy. According to the college, those who have $100,000 of property value would pay $85.14. That levy has increased from $18.7 million in 2014-2015 to $20.9 million in 2018-2019, dropping the price for that same taxpayer by just over $3.
Revenue for the college will decrease from $84.1 million in 2017-2018 to $81.5 million for 2018-19. Despite the loss of revenue coming in from the end of federal grants that CVTC President Bruce Barker said date back to the Great Recession, maintaining stability has been made easier with CVTC’s enrollment increasing.
Barker said enrollments at technical colleges are “counter-cyclical” to the economy, and most tech schools will see an increase in enrollment when the economy is hampered.
“Bad times means good business for us; good times means less,” Barker said.
But even with a record 2.8 percent unemployment in Wisconsin halfway through 2018, the last three years have seen CVTC’s enrollment increase, with projections for 2018-2019 showing a 2 percent increase after two years of nearly 5 and 4 percent increases.
When crafting CVTC’s budget this year, Director of Finance and Budget Kirk Moist said the college placed emphasis on growing programs and young students gearing up to enter higher education.
“Every budget involves choices,” Moist said. “We’re emphasizing high school academies. We’re emphasizing the culinary program because that’s going to be opening in the fall.”
The college’s new budget makes room for the addition of the culinary program to CVTC’s more than 90 different program options, opening up to 24 students in August and again in January. Plans for the budget also include renovations to the second floor of the Business Engagement Center.
The expansions have been largely funded through donations and local contributions, Barker said.
CVTC’s recruitment of younger students through social media platforms has been another push fueling the college’s enrollment, Barker said.
The college had 34 high school academies — where high school students learn in college courses — and awarded 6,000 credits to students taking dual high school courses last year.
“We can certainly offer a lot more options to high school seniors,” Barker said. “…I think that’s opened the door to high school students.”
The main focus with the budget and its goals, Barker said, is to keep the education localized to the Chippewa Valley as it churns out graduates to work here. About 88 percent of CVTC’s graduates will stay within the Chippewa Valley, while 70 percent stay within Wisconsin.
“The most important thing is,” Barker said, “that unlike the university who’s looking to develop programs that students may be interested in because they’re attracting students, our programs are really designed to reflect the local economy.”