From “Mary Burke visits college students, pushes jobs plan” — Governor Scott Walker visited on Tuesday, and democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke followed by bringing her “Invest for Success” tour to La Crosse on Wednesday.

Burke toured the Health Science Center on the UW-La Crosse campus on Wednesday, and spoke with health and science students.

Burke said she is committed to making Wisconsin a top ten thriving economy, creating more “good-paying” jobs, and making sure workers have the necessary skills to fill those jobs.

Burke also met with students at the Lunda Center on the Western Technical College campus, as she believes technical colleges plays a critical role in worker training—which would fuel job creation and strengthen Wisconsin’s middle class.

“We are constantly looking at how to produce more at a lower cost, and we have to approach education in the same way. We still want to keep quality really high, but we need to have more people to get skills and education after high school,” Burke said.

Burke said to help send the future workforce to college, she plans to increase tuition and fee deductions to help make higher education more affordable and available for middle class families.

“In terms of job creation, we are 9th our of ten Midwestern states. (Governor) Walker has cut funding for the technical colleges just at the point where we need to make sure we are investing in our students and investing in their skills,” Burke said.

Burke said 70 percent of new jobs created will require more education, and she said she believes the earlier they speak to high school students on what the next steps are ahead of them, the better Wisconsin will be able to create jobs.


From “Colleges look for ways to raise funds, not taxes, tuition” — College leaders say that today’s economy forces them to think creatively about raising money.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s President Jeff Rafnis is looking for new ways to raise money that do not involve taxes or tuition. The school’s long-range plan, “The Future 2018 Statement of Strategic Directions,” cites a goal to generate $1 million a year.

Other local college administrators say they, too, look for ways to bring dollars that won’t impact students or taxpayers. Rafn said it’s in their best interests.

“The rationality is, as we continue to move forward, the pressure to keep taxes down and not to raise tuition will continue, so we need to look at ways to diversify,” he said. “We need to look for funding wherever we can. The question is, ‘Could we create a revenue stream we haven’t before? Let’s see if we can generate $1 million.’”

That’s about 1 percent of NWTC’s $108 million budget, for 2013-14.

The funding would be separate from money raised through the school’s charitable foundation, Rafn said. It could include things such as marketing curriculum school staff has developed or other intellectual property, he said.

For example, NWTC has created a system to collect information about student progress to help faculty and staff recognize red flags early, and such a system could be sold to other schools, Rafn suggested.

In another example, every Taser device instructor course or re-certification course goes through NWTC — so a police department may have its own trainer, but that trainer is trained through the community college. NWTC could look at selling training products, he said. The school is in the process of securing a patent on such a product staff created in the electromechanical field, which could someday be sold, Rafn said.

School staff also creates curriculum that could be bartered or sold, he said. Administrators need to explore policy and legal implications before moving forward, Rafn said.

“It’s really just a way of starting to look outside of the box,” Rafn said. “The main reason we’re doing all of this is to enhance education. We’re not putting money in anybody’s pocket, it is all to help students.”

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has made similar efforts on a smaller scale, according to Dan McCollum, assistant vice chancellor for academic administration.

Nursing instructors have worked with several nursing groups and associations to create a computer application to replace paper manuals, he said. UW-Green Bay would receive a royalty for its participation.

It also has several programs that are self-supported, including its Environmental Management and Business Institute, which sells services to keep the department going, McCollum said.

St. Norbert College’s revenue enhancement task force meets every other month to discuss ways to raise money, said Amy Sorenson, chief of staff for President Thomas Kunkel.

The four-year private college in De Pere is in the process of trademarking its summer Girls Leadership and Development Camp, and Soreneson said the intention is to offer it to other organizations, especially educational groups.

Most external revenue, which excludes tuition or donations, comes from hosting conferences or special events such as wedding receptions, or renting out facilities, she said.

“I think with the rising cost of tuition, campuses need to look at these possibilities,” Sorenson said. “It’s very much on our radar.”

From “Moraine Park recognizes Ballweg’s efforts to gain additional financial aid” — Moraine Park Technical College recently recognized Wisconsin State Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) for her leadership efforts to secure an additional $2 million in financial aid funds for the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The funds will come from the Wisconsin Higher Education Grants (WHEG) programs and will be available to students during the 2013-15 school years. The additional funds allocated will help to compensate for the shortfall that left over 50,000 eligible students without financial aid.

“This is a great start, but we have a lot more to do to ensure that financial aid is available to eligible students,” Ballweg said. “I urge others to continue to stress the importance of financial aid and help others realize this is a smart investment.”

During the presentation, Richard Zimman, Moraine Park Technical College District Board chairperson, said that in the next decade 54 percent of Wisconsin’s jobs will require a technical education. “Wisconsin’s technical colleges are an essential asset for our state’s future,” Zimman said. “Moraine Park commends Representative Ballweg for her leadership in preparing our state for the future.”

Moraine Park Technical College was established in 1912 and is one of 16 technical college districts that make up the Wisconsin Technical College System. With campuses in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and West Bend, Moraine Park offers more than 100 associate of applied science degrees, technical diplomas, apprenticeships and certificates delivered in a variety of formats – classroom, online and blended.


From “CVTC enrollment shrinking to pre-recession levels” — By Andrew Dowd – After the Great Recession helped boost enrollment at Chippewa Valley Technical College as unemployed workers sought retraining for new jobs, student numbers are declining as the economy has improved.

Following a peak in spring 2011, enrollment fell in the past two years, and CVTC’s new budget forecasts it will decrease slightly in the upcoming academic year.

President Bruce Barker referred to the enrollment trend as “returning to pre-recession” levels, but still higher than the college’s numbers in the early 2000s.

Enrollment spiked in spring 2008 and 2011, reaching 4,623 and 4,720 full-time equivalent students, respectively. (CVTC measures its enrollment in full-time equivalency, where one student equals a full-time student or a few part-time ones that combine to equal a 15-credit course load.) Next year’s enrollment is projected at 4,300, a slight drop from the 4,340 full-time equivalent students that attended this spring.

Smaller high school graduating classes also are figuring into the decline.

“What we’re seeing is a smaller number of high graduates that the technical college is competing for as new enrollees in higher education,” CVTC spokesman Mark Gunderman said.

High school senior classes will decline 5 percent by 2019 in the technical college’s district, according to a forecast from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Tuition is going up by 4.5 percent next year at all Wisconsin public technical colleges, but CVTC is expecting to see a 1 percent decline in its tuition revenue because of the declining enrollment.

“The individual’s cost is going up, but total revenue is down,” Barker said.

Tuition contributed $16.32 million for CVTC’s 2012-13 budget, but is expected to fall to $16.08 million next year.

Four-year universities and colleges also are coping with the same decline in graduating high school numbers, Gunderman noted. However, technical colleges have a larger proportion of nontraditional students who work full time, raise a family or both while attending college.

To that end, CVTC is enhancing its catalog of eight-week classes geared toward working students that would have a more difficult time taking a regular 16-week course.


From “MATC leaders propose smallest tax increase in recent years” — Madison Area Technical College leaders are proposing to raise taxes by less than 1 percent next year, which if passed would be the smallest hike from the college in recent years.

It’s part of an overall budget that has closed an estimated $5.2 million shortfall through a variety of measures including raising selected student fees and cutting 10 jobs although no faculty will be let go, said Tim Casper, assistant vice president for budget and public affairs.

Taxes on the average $239,239 Madison home would increase by about $3 under the proposed 2013-2014 budget presented at a District Board meeting Wednesday, bringing the total MATC tax on the mythical average home to about $437. That does not include other portions of the tax bill, such as city, county and public schools.

The modest tax increase comes after larger bumps by the college in recent times. The average annual increase between 2001 and 2011 was 6.32 percent. Last year the college’s portion of the tax bill rose 3.96 percent.

The small bump budgeted for next year takes advantage a new wrinkle in Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget that allows technical college districts to raise property taxes at the percentage of equalized value due to new construction. The college estimates that change allows it to levy an extra $750,000, Casper said.

The total amount the college would levy is $123.8 million. The college’s general fund, which pays for day-to-day operations, will be about $150.5 million, an increase of about 2 percent next year.

Ten positions would be cut under the new budget, including three that are currently vacant, Casper said. Six staffers would be cut in the business procurement center, with another 1.2 full-time equivalent positions in health education cut. The job cuts will save $580,000, Casper said.

Students applying to the college would pay $25 to take the college’s Compass entrance test, a fee that’s already levied on prospective students at all other state technical colleges, Casper said. Students would also pay an “academic support fee” starting next year of $1.65 a credit for college transfer students and $1.22 a credit for students in occupational paths.

From “Tech college tuition going up” — Students will have to pay more at the state’s tech colleges starting next year.

The Wisconsin Technical College System approved a statewide tuition increase Wednesday of 4.5%

That means the average student will pay about $3,500 a year.

Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy says “To an individual who is trying to figure out how to support their kids,  they are trying to figure out how to pay their gas bill to and from work, which is the life that most of our students find themselves, every dollar is important.”

Foy says they did what they could to limit the increase.

Another big focus of the meeting was how to close the skills gap in the state.

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From “Many transfer options available for college students in area” — Obtaining a college degree can be one of the biggest moments in someone’s life. Schools in our area make it easier than ever to start at one campus and end at a different one.

Many colleges and universities offer students the option to transfer courses from one school and then use them towards their completion of a degree at another school.

The reasons for doing so differ. For some, starting at a community college and moving on to a four year school can help them save money.
Other students might want to take a class at one school that isn’t available at another.

Many schools in our area offer a transfer option, including Northcentral Technical College and UW – Marathon County. The close-knit environment of these schools mean students sometimes only need to travel a few minutes up the road to get transfer credits.

“We’re very proud of our community relationships in this area,” says Suzi Mathias, Director of Transfer and Placement at NTC. “We have some very strong collaborations with other colleges and we work with them frequently.”

She says it’s common for students to decide ahead of time to start their degree at NTC and complete a four-year degree at another school. At NTC students can transfer credits to more than 35 institutions.

Transfer directors say the most important thing when helping a student decide where to gain credits is looking at their particular needs.

“I think it’s important for students to be able to move some credits around because plans change,” says Keith Montgomery, Dean and CEO at UW- Marathon County.

One option offered through the University of Wisconsin Colleges is the Guaranteed Transfer Program. You begin as a freshman at a UW campus and receive guaranteed admission to complete a four year degree at another school. You must complete a declaration form, as well as keep a minimum GPA of a 2.0 (2.8 for UW-Madison) as well as complete the number of credits required for junior status into the transfer school.

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