Wed July 11, 2012
Western Tech to have ballot referendum on funding for upgrades
The board that oversee Western Technical College voted this week to put a referendum on the November ballot, that would fund fund major facility upgrades. Western officials are asking for almost $80 million to update and expand existing facilities.
President Lee Rasch says they anticipate 1000 more students by 2020 and they need to provide space for them.
After the state cut funding to technical colleges in the last budget cycle, Rasch says they need to prepare for funding to remain flat or even go down. “We just don’t see the future of Western being strong if we wait for someone at the federal level or state level to solve our problems for us," he says. "We have to figure out a way to do it on our own. In this case we’re asking for our community support.”
Voters in eleven southwest Wisconsin counties need to approve the proposal. All technical college building projects over $1.5 million have to go to referendum.
Morna Foy is the Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at the Wisconsin Technical College System. She says the last major building campaign was in the 1970s. “You can hobble along with an older, out-of-date building if you are able to manage the maintenance on it," she says. "Because we have this referendum requirement, lots of colleges have managed smaller spaces maybe past their natural lifetime.”
This will be the fourth technical college referendum to go to voters in four years. Foy says she anticipates other colleges will undertake referendums in the next few years.