Editorials Reaffirm College's Relevancy

Date: Friday, March 30, 2012
Web Address: N/A
Category: Board News/Facilities

Editorial: FVTC vote will boost Fox Valley

(published by both the Appleton Post-Crescent and Oshkosh Northwestern editorial boards on March 25, 2012)

It's certainly a small and worthwhile investment in the community's future.

Fox Valley Technical College is asking voters to approve a referendum April 3 that would give the college $66.5 million to spend on upgrading its facilities. That translates into about $1 a month for owners of property valued at $100,000.

Even though no one is thrilled to see their property tax bills go up, this referendum is worth approving. Investing in FVTC is the same as investing in the stability of the Fox Valley, and we shouldn't pass up an opportunity to do so.

FVTC, with its main campus in Grand Chute and facilities throughout the Fox Cities, is a busy institution. Enrollment has increased 30 percent in the past three years. Last year, it served 53,000 students, which is about double the population of Neenah.

The school is clearly filling a need. Now it's time to make sure it is set up for the future.

The focal point of the referendum is a $34.8 million public safety training center planned for the south end of Outagamie County Regional Airport property.

The project is designed to integrate the fire, emergency medical services and police training programs at a site that offers hands-on learning. The building will have indoor and outdoor pistol and rifle shooting ranges, a spot for emergency vehicle training, forensic labs, tactical labs, a live-fire burn building, a hazardous materials training site and a multipurpose village.

The public safety training site should be a huge draw for students because the program has built a solid reputation in the region. But it will serve more than just those looking to jumpstart their careers. Police officers and emergency personnel need continuous training, and they'll get it at FVTC. That means the Valley will have a better-trained force. And the college will bring in more money by filling this niche.

Industry leaders in other fields are urging voters to approve the referendum, too. They say the new facilities will build a workforce that has the skills the businesses need to thrive. A bigger pool of qualified candidates could translate into businesses deciding to stay put — or even expand — in the Fox Valley.

A better business climate benefits all taxpayers.

It's easy take an insular attitude about referendums. Some people argue that they'll never attend FVTC, so they shouldn't have to pay more to fund it.

That type of thinking could hold this community back. A vote for the FVTC referendum is one small way to contribute to the health of the Fox Cities. And that will surely pay off in the long run.