Change needed in tech college system

A recent reply to my email from the external relations director at the Wisconsin Technical College System in Madison confirms what I have been following for years.

All 16 tech districts in Wisconsin can offer two-year associate liberal arts/science degrees. Of course this is in direct competition with the two-year UW System colleges. These two systems have been competing for years for the same student audience.

It’s a known fact that student numbers are down in all education across the state. Students are taking the cheaper route by getting their general education courses at the tech colleges because the courses are cheaper and then transfer to a university with an associate degree. The funding of the UW System is controlled by the governor and the Legislature, the tech college system is accountable to the WTCS Board in Madison, which in my estimation has limited authority over these 16 independent tech districts.

The antiquated funding statutes that date back to before the Vietnam War was over with are still in place. At the local level it’s taxation without representation as these 16 tech districts boards are appointed, not elected.

The tech districts are on our local property tax bill plus these tech district boards have the ability to borrow millions of dollars with the local property taxpayers getting the tab. Since tech colleges can now serve as community colleges offering liberal arts/science associate degrees, and I, being a retired senior living on a fixed income, will be contacting my elected officials to move funding of the tech college system to the state level like the UW System. I urge all you folks out there that share my demographic to do the same.

Terry Nichols

Colfax