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Blackhawk Tech trims budget

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 23, 2012
— Blackhawk Technical College is eliminating 10 positions and closing its day care service, ropes course and a summer program for middle schoolers known as Tech Knowledge College.

The school announced the cuts Wednesday.


The BTC Board voted unanimously Feb. 15 to cut the 10 positions to make up for losses in revenue next year, said Brian Gohlke, vice president of human resources.


The vote was in closed session, and the action was kept secret until officials could tell each affected employee, Gohlke said.


The main campus’ day care center will continue to operate until the spring semester ends, according to a news release.


Student services staff members will help students make other day care arrangements, the release states.


The confidence-building ropes course known as Ed-Venture, which many local businesses and organizations have used, ends immediately.


The rest of the cuts go into effect when the fiscal year begins July 1.


The cuts were necessary because of a 30 percent cut in state aid and a cap on the district’s tax levy, according to the release.


Eliminated in the coming year are:


-- One of the two instructors in electrical power distribution.


-- The “experiential learning coordinator” who ran Ed-Venture.


-- The full-time manager and seven part-time positions at the day care center, including the teacher in the 4-year-old kindergarten program, which is run with the Janesville School District.


About 1 percent of students use the day care service. An even lower percentage believes it is essential, the board was told.


“The center was characterized as costly, greatly underutilized, and, due to security reasons, occupied space that went unused when space at the college is premium,” according to the news release.


The day care, Ed-Venture and Tech Knowledge College cuts combined will save $182,000, Gohlke said. Another $137,000 will be saved by not filling some vacant positions.


The district is stopping most out-of-state travel, saving $100,000.


The district also is converting its phone system to an Internet-based system, which is expected to save $55,000, Gohlke said.


The latest moves, combined with the termination of the aviation mechanics program and other moves announced in November, add up to a $1.1 million savings in 2012-13, Gohlke said.


Blackhawk Tech has a $57.71 million operating budget this year, according to earlier Gazette reports. The $1.1 million cut represents about a 2 percent reduction.


“These decisions, as well as those reduction strategies implemented in fall 2011, were characterized by Dr. Tom Eckert, BTC president, as the most difficult and agonizing of his career,” according to the news release.


“None of the cuts made reflect, in any way, lack of quality in either a program or a service,” Eckert is quoted as saying.


Board President Lauri Steeber could not be reached for comment.



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