Tech College News Archives

Nicolet College to host caregivers conference

Professional and family caregivers who provide direct care services at home or in long-term care settings are invited to attend the 8th Annual Direct Caregivers Conference next month at Nicolet College.

Sandy Bishop from Nicolet College is a member of the Northern Wisconsin Long Term Care Workforce Network. She says it’s a day to celebrate those who give care to others…

“…its a day for us to provide education, not only for certified nursing assistants, but also for other direct care providers and caregivers on all types of topics of interest to them…..”

Keynote speakers include Lynda Markut, author of Dementia Caregivers Share Their Stories: A Support Group in a Book; and Charles Schoenfeld, author of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Dementia Ward – Memoir of a Male CNA.

The conference is February 14 at the Northwoods Center at the Rhinelander campus. More information and registration is available by contacting the Nicolet College campus.

Read more: From wxpr.com: "Conference Honoring Caregivers Coming To Nicolet College"

Walker’s plan for tech college funding

Western Wisconsin property taxpayers would save about $15 million under tax cuts proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.

Money from the state’s expected surplus would offset taxes levied by Western Technical College, benefiting homes and businesses in Western’s 11-county district.

But Walker’s proposal is more than a money dump. It would also transform funding methods for Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

Western’s top official lauded the plan but wondered about the future.

“Essentially, it’s shifting the balance,” Western president Lee Rasch said. “If this plan is going to help reduce the impact on property tax, it’s really a wonderful thing.”

The governor’s plan would inject state funding into Wisconsin’s network of tech colleges in 2015 to ease the burden on local taxpayers. The average homeowner would save $89 per $100,000 of property value in Western’s district, which includes La Crosse County.

It’s a savings from this year’s rate, but it’s also lower than taxes were before voters passed an $80 million bonding referendum in 2012, Rasch said. Western’s total levy this year, not including debt, was just more than $25 million. Walker’s plan would cut that to $10.3 million.

“That’s a pretty significant drop,” Rasch said.

Western’s ability to tax property owners would be reduced from $1.50 to 61 cents per $1,000 of property value.

Western and other technical colleges would switch to a K-12-style of financing, Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance President Todd Berry said. The governor’s proposal would link technical college levies to state aid and impose a cap on all revenue.

Like public schools, low property taxes would depend on continued support from the state. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said the 2015 aid increase “will repeat in future years.”

“This is not one-time money,” Evenson said.

However, if state aid does dip, property taxes increase.

“That puts a new pressure on the state budget that hadn’t existed before,” Berry said.

Last year, Republican lawmakers recommended removing Wisconsin’s technical colleges from property tax bills.

At the time, Rasch criticized the proposal as a threat to local control. Walker’s proposal is “a good plan,” as long as local campuses still have the flexibility to develop courses and react to regional employment trends, Rasch said.

Walker also wants $35 million extra for training skilled workers. The program that would benefit is managed by the Department of Workforce Development, but some of the new funding would be channeled to technical colleges.

Money would go to eliminating wait-lists for high-demand courses and dual-credit programs, so tech schools could offer more college-level classes at nearby high schools.

Western officials are already considering ways to take advantage of the proposed funding, Rasch said. The college has wait-lists for welding, information technology and health care classes.

“We’re watching it closely,” Rasch said.

Read more: From jsonline.com: "Walker's plan would overhaul tech school funding"

Diesel instructor gives advice for winter driving

Semi-trucks, plows and school buses are all in danger when the temperatures drop below zero.

Mechanics say the proper fuel and care by truck drivers could save valuable time and money, especially on days when we don’t see temperatures above zero.

“The biggest thing is the filters get plugged. Once the filter’s plugged, then we run out of fuel,” Chippewa Valley Technical College diesel mechanic instructor Rusty Naylor said.

“The diesel fuel will start gelling when it gets down around 0 degrees. Anything below that, additives have to be put in to keep the fuel from getting thick,” Mid State International Trucks service manager Tom Behling said.

“Drivers in this area, what we have most problem with, is people coming from the south. They’re coming up from Florida, Texas, they fuel up in Missouri, and then when they hit here, our climates 20 below (zero), plus. They don’t think about the fuel gelling. They don’t have a problem down south,” Naylor said.

Behling said his Eau Claire shop has seen more than 100 trucks come because of cold weather problems, twice what it saw last year.

“If they can drive the truck here, they can easily get out of here for a couple hundred dollars. You get towed in; you’re probably looking at $1,000 or more because towing gets expensive.”

He along with Naylor said there are things drivers can do to avoid diesel from gelling up.

“You need a blended fuel, that will drop the temperature at which this wax will develop … Also to that you have to put additives in,” Naylor said.

“This is a trial and error time. I’m looking at tomorrow morning myself, got good fuel, blended fuel; we’ll see what happens at 25 below zero.”

Naylor said if a truck starts, but power drops while driving, that could be a sign that diesel is gelling.

Read more: From weau.com: "Cold weather brings diesel dangers"

Tech college students provide tax preparation assistance

It’s your ticket to a big check from Uncle Sam, or for some it’s payback time to the IRS. Your W-2 should be in the mail soon and in 2014, there are plenty of different ways for taxpayers to file their taxes.

“I just got my W-2 in the mail. I may have to do it in the next week or two, I might need to get started on that,” said student at Chippewa Valley Technical College, Nathan Hakes.

Hakes and millions of Americans will be able to file their taxes now, but due to last year’s government shutdown, the IRS delayed the tax filing season by ten days.

“You can still prepare you return and send it, it’ll just be held until January 31st timeframe,” said Casper Haas, a tax manager at InCity Tax Service in downtown Eau Claire.

That means the IRS won’t begin processing tax preparations sent in until the end of the month. The April 15th deadline is still in place

Haas knows all about filing taxes because he thinks about it 365 days a year as a tax manager.

“Tax preparation can be stressful and we’re in the business of preparing tax returns. This is what we do, this is what we live for, this is what we study for,” said Haas who said people have begun bringing in their taxes for him to help prepare.

He said a professional preparer is something to consider, especially if you’re dealing with more than just a W-2.

“(If they have) two income households, they own a home, they have dependents, so they more than likely would itemize deductions, so Schedule A.,” said Haas. “We work with small businesses as well as LLCs, sole proprietors; we can do those returns as well.”

If you feel comfortable doing your own taxes, technology can help you do just that. New this year are tax preparation apps that can be downloaded on a mobile device. H&R Block came out with a Tax Preparation 2013 app and so did TurboTax with its new app called SnapTax.

SnapTax is as simple as snapping a picture of your W-2 on your smartphone and it will put all the information into the app program, calculating your federal and state returns.

Some people turn to software, like TaxACT and Intuit TurboTax.

“I now use TurboTax online,” said Hakes. “It’s so much faster and I can answer everything myself.”

Hakes said his mother taught him how to file his own taxes.

“I tried going through H&R Block but I think through TurboTax, I was able to find the deductions I knew. Now online works for me, it’s simple,” he said.

The IRS lets you file your taxes for free if your income is below $58,000. A free tax prep software is offered online at the IRS.gov website. For income above $58,000, it offers free file fillable forms which will be available on January 31, 2014.

And if you’re low income and want something free, CVTC is offering VITA, the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program.

“We have students who are very, very eager to help out and it’s great experience for them as well because gives them that real life feel and real interaction,” said accounting instructor Jason Szymanski.

He said it’s a chance for people who can’t afford professional help to get their taxes prepared by a trained and certified volunteer. Volunteers can help with services that are not too complicated, like income tax credit, child care tax credits, unemployment compensation and Wisconsin homestead tax credit.

CVTC said the VITA service is offered Thursdays Feb. 6 through April 10 in room 240 of the Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire. The service is provided on a first-come-first-served basis, with sign-up beginning at noon and tax preparation from 1-4:30 p.m. each day.

Read more: From weau.com: "Filing your taxes soon? You've got options"

MATC instructor sees more demand for VMware training

By Denise Lockwood – Let’s talk about IT trends and how Milwaukee Area Technical College has designed its curriculum around those trends, specifically virtual servers and data storage and the huge need companies have in filling positions with IT types who have software certification called VMware.

MATC is aligning its IT curriculum with a number of highly sought after skills, but VMware is “the 800-pound gorilla in the middle of the room,” said Brian Kirsch, an IT networking instructor at MATC.

“VMware has revolutionized everything and it’s not going to go away any time soon,” Kirsch said. “I only see it continuing to grow.”

So what constitutes virtual servers and data storage?

Companies use virtual servers to run their data centers and reduce their server footprint. So if you’ve got a more powerful server, you can run smaller servers off one large server. And chances are good that if you work at or want to work at a company that uses virtual services and data storage, that company is probably using VMware — 60 percent of the servers in the world run on VMware.

The problem (and opportunity) is that 120,000 people are certified in VMware training and with that type of utilization, the number of people with certifications should probably be in the millions. So if you are looking for a career in the IT industry or a change in your IT emphasis, this is a good direction to take, Kirsch said.

Locally, Northwestern Mutual, Aurora Health Care and FIS are just a few companies that run VMware. New graduates who graduate with an IT network specialist associate degree and get certified in how to use the software can expect to earn $40,000. Demand is high: People with a few years of experience in VMware and certification are earning $80,000 to $100,000 a year.

The demand is so high that Kirsch, who has been teaching VMware, has seen companies pluck students from his classroom and offer them jobs before they earn the actual certificate, which is done through VMware, Kirsch said.

“I personally get to turn down one job offer a week,” Kirsch said. “And one of my students who was in my class actually had to negotiate time off with his employer to finish the class.”

A number of IT professionals, who already have degrees, are returning to take the VMware class. The class isn’t easy and the VMware certification test is difficult, which is why MATC is hoping to offer a followup in the 2014-15 school year, Kirsch said.

“We often say that our education programs are one of the best kept secrets in Milwaukee,” Kirsch said. “We’d like that to change.”

Read more: From bizjournals.com: "MATC instructor sees more demand for VMware training"

WITC to offer customer service seminar

WITC-Hayward Continuing Education will conduct a seminar for hospitality and retail customer service personnel that will prepare staff members to offer exceptional customer service skills during the busy summer season.

In a joint effort, WITC-Hayward and Sawyer County UW-Extension will host the seminar, designed specifically for northern tourism employees. On Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Andrew Nussbaum of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will present informative tips on how employees in the tourism industry can help employers generate customer loyalty. The seminar, Northern Hospitality, will be held at WITC-Hayward. Materials, lunch and snacks are included in the fee of $35 per person or $16.67 for individuals 62 or better.

Employees will hear and be involved in the discussion of the importance of personal job success, customer relations and selling. Some of the specific topics will include: honesty; teamwork; loyalty & job performance; punctuality & attendance; work ethic, selling products, personal image, social media interaction & the job, dealing with customer complaints, and the top ten customer relations strategies. The seminar will be appropriate for all ages, including high school students.

Seating is limited, so employers should plan for and register early. For more information or to register, call WITC at (715) 634-5167. Course information also may be viewed at www.witc.edu.

Read more: From haywardwi.com: "WITC to offer customer service training"

Mid-State Tech to open Stevens Point campus in June

 STEVENS POINT — Jerry Stumpf said working on the new Mid-State Technical College campus in downtown Stevens Point wasn’t what he planned for when he signed up to take an IT-network specialist at the college.

Yet there was Stumpf, 65, of Custer, taking measurements earlier this week with about 20 students from a class taught by Kathryn Doar, an IT instructor on the MSTC Stevens Point campus, in the network lab and PC clinic. Students in Doar’s class are being asked to put together a plan for building the computer network and will begin work on the project next week.

“I originally took the class because I wanted to learn more about computers, but (Doar) talked me into getting out and doing some of this work,” said Stumpf, who has participated in other projects through the class at the Stevens Point Area YMCA and Ben Franklin Junior High School.

Construction is on schedule the new campus, located in the J.C. Penney wing of the former CenterPoint MarketPlace, 1001 Centerpoint Drive. Stevens Point Campus Dean Steve Smith said a grand opening, along with a centennial celebration for the college, will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 4.

The new campus has been part of the city’s redevelopment plan for CenterPoint Marketplace, which included demolishing the mall portion of the building and rebuilding Third Street to connect to Centerpoint Drive, since it was announced by Mayor Andrew Halverson back in December 2010.

Ellis Stone Construction Co. of Stevens Point is the contractor for the project, which has a cost of about $6 million. Smith said the campus originally was expected to be completed this month, but design changes pushed that date back to June.

The new MSTC building will be 52,000 square feet. The current campus along Michigan Avenue is 36,000 square feet and will be vacated after the new campus opens. The downtown site will serve 2,800 students a year. Smith said the additional space on the new campus will allow for the expansion of programs such as information technology, and for the early childhood education program to be moved from the Wisconsin Rapids campus to Stevens Point.

Smith said construction crews will be working to complete the majority of the work on the new campus over the next month or so, along with the installation of carpeting. Smith said the majority of new furniture is expected to be delivered around Feb. 20. Furniture and other equipment coming over from the old campus will then take place the weekend of May 17 and 18.

“It’s exciting to be coming to a point where we’re starting to see things come together. It’s going to be a hectic time over the next few months, but I think people are going to enjoy it when they get in the building and see what’s there,” Smith said.

Read more: From stevenspointjournal.com: "Mid-State to open downtown Stevens Point campus in June"

CVTC leader: State aid boost keeps job training in high gear

Any way you look at it, Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement during his State of the State address Wednesday that Wisconsin technical colleges will receive an additional $35 million is good news, Chippewa Valley Technical College President Bruce Barker said.

Barker was enthusiastic after hearing Walker’s remarks about increasing funding for the technical college he oversees and others.

“It’s certainly good news,” Barker said of the additional money, part of a program dubbed Wisconsin Fast Forward. “It’s definitely more money for training and education, and that’s a good thing.”

However, Barker said while that money can be used to hire more teachers, he doesn’t believe it can be spent to add laboratory space, already in high demand at CVTC.

“It’s additional dollars, but we have to see what the requirements will be,” Barker said. “The problem is the capacity of our labs. Our welding lab goes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and these are year-round programs.”

The main components of Wisconsin Fast Forward aim to eliminate waiting lists in high-demand job markets such as manufacturing, agriculture and information technology, and help high school students get credits through dual enrollment programs between high schools and technical colleges.

CVTC has longer waiting lists for nurse hygienists and nursing programs than in manufacturing or agriculture programs, Barker said.

“We’re certainly seeing a big demand in manufacturing and transportation, for truck drivers. Both of those programs, we’re at maximum capacity,” Barker said.

State Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, who introduced Wisconsin Fast Forward in the Assembly, said the initiative is a step in the right direction.

“Linking job seekers with employers that target critical and in-demand jobs while working with tech colleges and workforce development centers across the state puts a sharp focus on employment issues at a local level, where need and demand can be best addressed,” she said in a news release.

In addition to those programs, Walker proposed replacing $406 million in property taxes for technical colleges with state dollars. That would be accomplished by lowering the property tax levy that technical colleges can assess on homeowners.

“It’s a step in the right direction for local taxpayers,” Barker said. “But with the switch to state dollars, you fear losing local control. You also fear a cut in the state budget.”

Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said in a statement Thursday that Walker’s plan brings better balance to the system’s funding structure. Foy said the system has “long sought greater equity between local and state investments.”

Effect of Governor Walker’s plan to change tech college funding

Western Wisconsin property taxpayers would save about $15 million under tax cuts proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.

Money from the state’s expected surplus would offset taxes levied by Western Technical College, benefiting homes and businesses in Western’s 11-county district.

But Walker’s proposal is more than a money dump. It would also transform funding methods for Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

Western’s top official lauded the plan but wondered about the future.

“Essentially, it’s shifting the balance,” Western president Lee Rasch said. “If this plan is going to help reduce the impact on property tax, it’s really a wonderful thing.”

The governor’s plan would inject state funding into Wisconsin’s network of tech colleges in 2015 to ease the burden on local taxpayers. The average homeowner would save $89 per $100,000 of property value in Western’s district, which includes La Crosse County.

It’s a savings from this year’s rate, but it’s also lower than taxes were before voters passed an $80 million bonding referendum in 2012, Rasch said. Western’s total levy this year, not including debt, was just more than $25 million. Walker’s plan would cut that to $10.3 million.

“That’s a pretty significant drop,” Rasch said.

Western’s ability to tax property owners would be reduced from $1.50 to 61 cents per $1,000 of property value.

Western and other technical colleges would switch to a K-12-style of financing, Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance President Todd Berry said. The governor’s proposal would link technical college levies to state aid and impose a cap on all revenue.

Like public schools, low property taxes would depend on continued support from the state. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said the 2015 aid increase “will repeat in future years.”

“This is not one-time money,” Evenson said.

However, if state aid does dip, property taxes increase.

“That puts a new pressure on the state budget that hadn’t existed before,” Berry said.

Last year, Republican lawmakers recommended removing Wisconsin’s technical colleges from property tax bills.

At the time, Rasch criticized the proposal as a threat to local control. Walker’s proposal is “a good plan,” as long as local campuses still have the flexibility to develop courses and react to regional employment trends, Rasch said.

Walker also wants $35 million extra for training skilled workers. The program that would benefit is managed by the Department of Workforce Development, but some of the new funding would be channeled to technical colleges.

Money would go to eliminating wait-lists for high-demand courses and dual-credit programs, so tech schools could offer more college-level classes at nearby high schools.

Western officials are already considering ways to take advantage of the proposed funding, Rasch said. The college has wait-lists for welding, information technology and health care classes.

“We’re watching it closely,” Rasch said.

Read more: From twincities.com: "Scott Walker's plan would overhaul tech school funding"

MSTC programs, local employers would benefit from grant funding

GRAND RAPIDS — Building on a strong renewable energy base in central Wisconsin, a federal lawmaker has introduced a bill she says will help expand opportunities for students to learn more about the industry.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., visited Mid-State Technical College on Thursday to announce the legislation and meet with faculty and students to talk about the benefits of renewable energy jobs to state and national economies.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity to be at a campus which is really taking a leadership role on this issue already, because they’re very excited about the legislation but also have some really good wisdom in terms of having some of these programs under their belt,” Baldwin said.

The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation, or GREEN, Act would allocate competitive grant money for programs that prepare students for jobs or to attend post-secondary schools. Her office said clean-energy jobs pay about 13 percent better than the average job in the U.S., and the field is growing at nearly twice the rate of the national economy.

The grants also would allow technical colleges and high schools to install renewable energy projects for training purposes, Baldwin said.

In addition, the legislation promotes the renewable energy sector in the classroom in an attempt to get students more interested in the industry at an earlier age, Baldwin said. Mid-State’s renewable energy specialist program prepares students to design an integrated portfolio of renewable and traditional energy-producing systems and is the only program of its kind in the Wisconsin Technical College System.

A number of Wisconsin technical college leaders, including MSTC President Sue Budjac and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna K. Foy, have expressed support for the bill. MSTC already partners with local employers, including those involved in the Workforce Central Peer Council and the Business Education Partnership Committee.

“We knew that we were kind of out ahead of the curve. We knew that the economy was growing around us, and we’ve begun producing technicians in the last few years that are meeting the needs locally and also on a regional and national basis,” said Ron Zillmer, associate dean of the college’s Technical & Industrial Division. “We’re happy about that, but this is the first real significant federal legislation that addresses that green-collar sector.

“I like the approach that Sen. Baldwin has taken with an educational focus,” Zillmer said. “So often, we try to pour support and funding to business and industry, and that’s fine, but in a situation like this where this is an emerging technology, there needs to be a balance.”

A bill similar to Baldwin’s was introduced in the House of Representatives in June and remains in committee, according to govtrack.us, which tracks federal legislation. The bill, by California Democrat Jerry McNerney, also would spend $100 million to develop career and technical education programs and facilities in the renewable energy field.

Baldwin also visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Wednesday.

Read more: From fdlreporter.com: "Federal legislation aimed as helping renewable energy industry"

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