LTE – Terry Nichols – 8-21-2017

The pursuit of all public higher education is completely an individual choice.

This past May started my 15th year of stating that the pursuit of all public higher education is completely an individual choice. The ability of local tech college district boards that are appointed, not elected, to borrow millions with the local property taxpayers in the districts getting the tab.

[emember_protected] I have stated that the mean-spirited, antiquated funding statutes of the tech college system hurt seniors and others living on fixed incomes.It is also fact that 10,000 U.S citizens turn 65 every day and will for the next 18 years. The plight of seniors living on fixed incomes and trying to stay in their homes will only worsen.

The 16 tech districts have approved their budgets for fiscal year 2017-18. Here’s a classic example to illustrate my point.  Last week I contacted the Chief Financial Officer for Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College district headquartered in Rice Lake and Administration offices in Shell Lake. The borrowing for this fiscal year for WITC is $9,025,000. It was stated that all the borrowing would address capital purposes. The break down for the borrowing is as follows:

• $5,525,000.00 for site, land improvements and building improvements at the four comprehensive campuses and the administrative office (I assume the Shell Lake location)

• $3,500,000.00 for equipment and technology

Incidentally, Chippewa Valley Tech College is borrowing $8,000,000. At the June budget meeting, I asked the CVTC Board if they are aware of the seniors living on fixed incomes in their district as I have for years. No comment.

As I observe the progress at the Colfax School District due to the passed referendum for 7.2 million dollars, I can’t help but think in one fiscal year WITC and CVTC tech districts have a combined total of over 17 million dollars in borrowing. When the Colfax project is done, part of the school still dates back to when Eisenhower was President. It must be nice that appointed, not elected tech college district boards can borrow 3.5 million dollars for equipment and technology and K-12 school districts, with elected school boards, have to go to the local taxpayers in the form of a referendum to get the same needs. K-12 attendance in this state is mandatory by law; student attendance at a tech college is completely an individual choice. Funding for the Technical College System, a public higher education system, needs to go to the state level like the UW system and off the backs of local property taxpayers.

Terry Nichols
Town of Colfax [/emember_protected]