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Our endorsement: CVTC referendum deserves support

Our endorsement: CVTC referendum deserves support

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Chippewa Valley Technical College continues to drive the local economy.

At a time when employers in our region and the Upper Midwest are struggling to find trained workforce, CVTC churns out highly trained, job-ready employees at an impressive pace.

In fact, 95% of CVTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation.

And they work in Wisconsin. Ninety-one % work in the Badger State – and their average starting salary is $46,816.

But CVTC has reached a limit to how many graduates it can churn out with the quality programs that employers value.

On April 7, voters in CVTC’s 11-county district will be asked to approve a $48.8 million investment in expanding and improving the school’s facilities.

We think it’s a terrific investment – in fact, it’s only the second time that CVTC has asked voters to approve a referendum. (The last was in 1997.)

For someone with an assessed property value of $100,000, that added investment would cost an estimated $13 per year for 20 years

We think it’s a wise choice – especially because the college has a strong record of investing in programs that pay off for the Chippewa Valley economy.

In fiscal 2018-2019, CVTC had 18,595 students. In fact, CVTC has increased enrollment for four consecutive years – the only technical college in Wisconsin to boast such a winning streak.

Because of enrollment growth, the demand for education space exceeds CVTC’s capacity at its seven campuses from River Falls to Neillsville

CVTC will use the money from the referendum to invest in high-impact employment areas, including transportation, public safety, manufacturing, technology and community partnership.

Seventy percent of the jobs that face a worker shortage require technical training.

That’s why this workforce-focused investment is so important.

The referendum has several key elements:

  • Construct an automated fabrication center lab to develop robotic welding and welding fabrication workforce. That includes courses in mechanical design, manufacturing engineering technology and automation engineering technology.
  • Build a new transportation center to tackle the critical shortage of technicians and drivers. This will increase student capacity, replace outdated facilities and provide training for new hybrid technology.
  • Expand the Emergency Service Education Center to provide more real-life simulation opportunities for law enforcement firefighters, paramedics and emergency responders.
  • Expand and modernize campuses and provide more mobile options. As part of the campus work, the Menomonie campus would develop a secure main entrance and updated commons, and the Chippewa Falls campus will develop more science lab space for increased high school academies.

High school academies provide a growing number of high school students with CVTC training. There are 40 high schools and 80 academies in the district that provide college training to high school students. And that has saved families in the Chippewa Valley $1.2 million in college costs.

CVTC President Bruce Barker, who has done an excellent job of leading the district since January 2008, says the college impacts the lives of everyone in the Chippewa Valley every day.

Approving this referendum will assure a growing, skilled workforce to make our future even brighter.


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