CVTC board approves expansion and renovation projects; adds new programs

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- A local college has approved $3 million worth of renovations and expansions to two of its campuses.

Thursday night, the Chippewa Valley Technical College board approved the 2017-18 budget. The budget includes one improvement that adds a culinary program to its campus in Eau Claire and another that expands the River Falls campus to accommodate the growing enrollment.

“We talk about budget challenges and challenging times, but you can’t shrink your way to relevance,” said Tom Huffcutt, the Vice President of Operations at CVTC. “You have to add relevant programs and programming and facilities to serve the community for both employers and businesses and students. So I think it is exciting we're going to meet important needs.”

Due to employer needs in Eau Claire, the college is adding a culinary program. This $1.5 million renovation project will include revamping classrooms at its Business Education Center.

“It’s going to help employers because we're meeting a need,” Huffcutt added. “Any student who has an interest in the culinary world basically has to take a job and learn it on the job, and perhaps have lower wages than they’d make otherwise. Now they’re going to show up at the job with skills that are going to enable them to walk right in and make a major contribution.”

Two instructors have already been hired by the school, with 10 students currently enrolled.

Over in River Falls, the college will be adding 7,200 sq. ft. to campus, as well some remodeling, to accommodate for increased enrollment as the campus is "bursting at its gills" according to Huffcutt. The construction for this $1.5 million project will overlap with students during the spring semester, but board members say not for too long.

The total budget calls for $94.1 million in total expenditures, an increase from last year's $91.8 million, with most of the increased spending is due to federal grants and the building projects.

Both projects are expected to be complete for the Fall 2018 semester; however, both will need approval by the state Wisconsin Technical College System Board.

The budget will also support several new programs. Starting next fall, Mechanical Design will be added in both River Falls and Eau Claire, and the Agriscience Program will become two programs, Animal Science Management and Agronomy Management. CVTC will also be offering a very unique, completely online program in Library and Informational Services.

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