A year of new construction rising from the ground, the opening of the first building approved in the April 2020 referendum and serving students and the community in new ways is in the works at Chippewa Valley Technical College. The CVTC District Board gave preliminary approval Thursday, May 28, to a budget that will provide the framework for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.
On the immediate horizon is saying a fond farewell to current CVTC President Bruce Barker, who will retire just as the new year starts, making way for new president Dr. Sunem Beaton-Garcia.
“CVTC will greatly miss Bruce and the tremendous difference he has made,” said Paul Bauer, CVTC board chair. “We welcome Dr. Beaton-Garcia’s leadership as we enter the next chapter of CVTC’s growth and development. She is a dynamic, engaging, and thoughtful leader with a proven track record.”
Barker and Kirk Moist, vice president of Finance and Facilities outlined the goals of the new budget, which encompass the enhancement of programs and services for students and improving facilities. This includes a new Ag Service Technician program, adding Respiratory Therapy at the River Falls Campus, further expansion of high school academies, expanded use of open educational resources and use of federal grant money to close opportunity gaps for students.
On the facilities side, CVTC will open the first of the referendum-approved projects when the Automated Fabrication Lab addition to the Manufacturing Education Center opens for the fall semester. Construction of the new Transportation Education Center is underway on the West Campus and work on a major expansion and remodeling project at the Emergency Services Education Center will begin in June.
Among the academic goals for the year reflected in the budget is to increase completion rates for students experiencing barriers.
“The demand remains high for CVTC graduates. To meet demand, we aim to close the opportunity gap that exists for a portion of our students,” said Margo Keys, vice president of student services. “Underrepresented and disadvantaged students often have barriers that need to be removed so the student can focus on completing their degree. These can be financial barriers, technology challenges, degree planning, and social support.”
U.S. Department of Education Grants under the Title III and TRIO programs provide funds for addressing these needs.
“CVTC will improve success across the college through a student-centered approach,” Keys said. "We will implement guided pathway essential practices for students through degree planning strategies. Additionally, we will address inequities through financial literacy education, reduced textbook cost, and improved access to social support services.”
The budget approved by the Board calls for a 3.41 percent reduction in the tax rate, the amount property owners pay per $1,000 of equalized value. The proposed rate of .87433 would result in a property tax bill for support of CVTC of $87.43 on $100,000 of property. An increase of equalized property values of 4.5 percent and an increase of 1.6 percent due to new construction allow for the lower rate.
The tax levy (the total amount collected in property taxes across the entire CVTC district) increases only slightly, from $25.3 to $25.5 million.
“The proposed budget allows us to continue to implement the plans voters overwhelmingly approved in 2020 while also addressing the needs of students and employers in the region,” Barker said. “I am confident Dr. Beaton-Garcia will be able to start her tenure with a solid financial plan involving both growth and fiscal responsibility.”
Final approval of a 2021-22 budget will follow a public hearing in June.
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.