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The Moraine Park Referendum with Bonnie Baerwald and Pete Rettler
Episode 5818th October 2022 • Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz • Fuzz Martin
00:00:00 00:20:59

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There are a couple of important referendums coming up in Washington County this November. One of which is the Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) referendum. This referendum, if approved, will support students in 130 municipalities throughout 10 different counties in the Fox Valley and Southeastern Wisconsin (Washington County included).

MPTC President Bonnie Baerwald and West Bend Campus Dean Pete Rettler join me on this week's episode to discuss the referendum, why we need it, how much it's going to cost, and what projects will be funded if it passes.

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Fuzz Martin 0:05

Hey there, welcome to Fifteen Minutes with Muzz. I am your host Fuzz Martin. And each and every week, I share stories about positive things happening right here in Washington County, Wisconsin. I have some housekeeping. You know how I normally say new episodes every Monday? Well, I'm changing that to Tuesday. Why? Because I also produced my wife's podcast called the Tech Tools for Teachers podcast, and her much more successful podcasts also posts on Monday. And what does that mean? That means I spend about six hours every Sunday producing podcasts. And while I truly love producing podcasts, I also enjoy hanging out on a Sunday. So starting today, actually, starting last week, if you're keeping track at home, new episodes of 15 Minutes with Fuzz will come out every Tuesday, at some time before 7am. I also found out that while I was launching my show at midnight on Mondays, most of you have your phones silenced at midnight, because you know you're sleeping and things like that. So posting later was getting people to get alerts and then therefore they remember to listen on their drive to work or wherever they're going on on that morning. And so it was more successful. So I do market for marketing for a living. So there we go. That's what I do. You may not know it, but there's an election coming up on Tuesday, November 8. Well, one of the rules of this show is no politics. There are some important referendums on the ballot, one of which is a referendum to help support our Area Technical College District, which for most of Washington County, is the Moraine Park District. Bonnie Baerald and Pete Rettler joined me this week to talk about the details of that referendum, why we need it, how much it's going to cost us and what's at stake for the region. And with that, here's 15 minutes on the Moraine Park Technical College referendum with Bonnie Baerwald and Pete Rettler on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

Fuzz Martin 2:22

Thank you both for joining me today. Bonnie, I'm gonna start with you. So what are your responsibilities as the president of Moraine Park Technical College,

Bonnie Baerwald 2:30

As president of the college I'm responsible for pretty much everything in oversight regarding strategy, Vision culture, I guess anything typical that a president does do for an organization? Sure.

Fuzz Martin 2:43

And how long have you been with MPTC?

Bonnie Baerwald 2:45

I am working on my 30th year anniversary coming up in March. And this is the start of my seventh year as president.

Fuzz Martin 2:53

Wow. Well, congratulations. forthcoming on 30 years. That's great. And Pete, what are you in charge of as the dean of the West Bend campus?

Pete Rettler 3:01

I am the Dean of the West Bend campus. So part of my job is I'm the face of marine park in West Bend. And in the Greater Washington County community, and I also college wide, I oversee Institutional Effectiveness the libraries and grants.

Fuzz Martin 3:15

Now I'm sure most people listening to this are familiar with Moraine Park Technical College, especially the West Bend campus, but could you please give us some more background on MPTC and some of the facts and figures behind it?

Unknown Speaker 3:27

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Fuzz Martin 4:11

So one thing I wasn't really clear on until I heard about this referendum that we'll talk about coming up is that the state for the Technical College's set up in districts kind of like a regular school district would be set up. Is that correct?

Bonnie Baerwald 4:23

Yes. So we have our district boundaries, if you will, and quite frankly, they follow school district boundaries. Okay. And so our statutory mission is to serve the residents within our district. Hence why we have local tax authority.

Fuzz Martin 4:38

How does marine park Technical College differ from a four year university? Well,

Bonnie Baerwald 4:43

the technical college system was set up statutorily, and quite frankly, our purposes are actually defined primarily to serve as occupational trainers and re trainers for the employers within our district. That also includes offering apprenticeships and fire basic fire training. Additionally, we're to offer customized instruction for business and industries, again, within our residents, residential employers. And then on the last piece, we actually have a statutory requirement to provide advanced credentialing to the high school students within our district.

Fuzz Martin 5:24

With that now you partner with a lot of the different high schools that obviously is part of that statute, and then also with businesses as well. And that that ranges from trucking to welding to all sorts of things, right,

Bonnie Baerwald 5:36

right. We we actually have 27 school districts within our boundaries. And so we meet with all of them individually every single year to find out what type of what we call dual enrollment credentialing would make sense for that particular school. We do a lot of assistance with career exploration, advising and whatever else the school needs. And then to our employer base. We offer anything as you mentioned, from welding training, to strategic planning to supervisory training. Again, it's all customized curriculum depending on what every employer needs.

Fuzz Martin 6:14

With that, how many different degree programs does marine park offer,

Bonnie Baerwald 6:17

I think we have about 112 different types of credentials. Today, we continue to change that every year, we go through a process of either and adding editing or eliminating programs, again, really, depending on what our employers need.

Fuzz Martin 6:32

Coming up on Tuesday, November 8, it's election day, across the nation. And while there has been a lot of news surrounding the Senate race and the gubernatorial race, there has not been a lot of coverage on the upcoming referendum, particularly in Washington County, this one, and not a lot of people have heard about, tell us a bit about the referendum.

Bonnie Baerwald 6:51

We have been planning for the last two years to come forward with a proposed referendum, totaling $55 million covering four separate projects. And quite frankly, this is employer based, it's based on conversations with employers, and the workforce talent issues they've been experiencing, obviously since COVID, and certainly beyond. And so this is our opportunity to address again, something that the employers need. And quite frankly, in my opinion, some some of the Ark communities really need this as an investment to attract and retain workers.

Fuzz Martin 7:30

Now, under the state law, technical colleges have to hold referendums for projects that are over a certain amount of money, right? And that's why we're here. Right,

Bonnie Baerwald 7:40

Correct, we have a statutory requirement, we cannot build anything beyond $1.5 million every two years per campus by statute, and the only way we can is to either get private donations or seek referendum.

Fuzz Martin 7:55

Okay, and so the referendum coming up on the ballot, is it okay if I read this as as is so the question that you'll get if you're in the Moraine Park Technical College District will be Shall the Moraine Park Technical College District, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to chapter 67 of the Wisconsin statutes, general obligation bonds or promissory notes in an amount not to exceed $55 million for the public purpose of paying the cost of capital expenditures for the purchase or construction of buildings, building additions, remodeling and improvements, site improvements, the acquisition of sites, and the purchase of fixed and other equipment at district locations, including but not limited to advanced manufacturing facilities that find a lack in West Bend campuses, a health and human services facility at the Fond du Lac campus, and a regional fire training facility. So that's what people will see when they read this. But if you know, we need them to be aware of what it is because you don't want to make that decision. Right at the at the ballot. Right.

Bonnie Baerwald 8:51

Correct. And I will be clear that this is something that bond counsel shared with me and I was not allowed to tweak it at all

Fuzz Martin 8:59

sure that they don't like marketing and those I guess. So obviously, you wouldn't put yourself through all of this if there wasn't a great need for it. So what kinds of needs have industries and schools in the Fox Valley and southeastern Wisconsin here I've been asking you for?

Bonnie Baerwald 9:15

Quite frankly, it's just, I guess, talent attraction, retention, primarily, health care, advanced manufacturing and information technology. The needs are so great, that we certainly don't have the bodies to fill the jobs. But the jobs that we do have in the jobs of the future, will require more rescaling of current workers and certainly advanced skilling of the upcoming workers. And so we'll talk a little bit about the numbers of job openings when we actually talk about the projects.

Fuzz Martin 9:47

So let's talk about that. There are four projects that your funding correct are looking to fund. Can you tell us what what those are?

Bonnie Baerwald 9:53

Sure, there's four projects. There's two of them in the Fondulac campus. So I'll talk about those two first. The first one is in advanced manufacturing, we call it it enhancement. That's a combination of primarily remodeling and some facility additions. It's primarily remodeling our, our trades and manufacturing wing to create very specialized labs, more comprehensive collaborative learning spaces for not only incumbent workers, our traditional learners, but also to invite our K 12 partners because a lot of those k 12 districts are either losing or don't have the faculty credentialed on their current staff to teach the college dual enrollment credentials like they had in the past. So that's primarily again, a remodel with some additional dollars to support our robotics and automation center. And then the other project on that campus is related to our health care wing. And so right now, we don't have a lot of simulation experiences at the Fondulac campus. And so we're looking to reposition what currently is in that wing over to the manufacturing space where it makes more sense, and then build an eight suite Healthcare Simulation weighing. And so again, primarily remodeling and health care with an expanded 11,000 square foot addition for future health care programming. Because we see a lot of health care programming needs within our communities, all of the communities we serve. So those are the two Fond du Lac projects, the Washington County or the West Bend campus project is primarily in addition. So that's going to be a 46,000 square foot addition, to address the increasing demand on advanced manufacturing here in this community, we've had a lot of economic growth in that space. And we need more training in things like robotics automation, we have welding and fabrication in the village of Jackson, but we're paying a lease over there, we'd like to bring those programs back on campus and terminate the lease cost for us. We also want to enhance our apprenticeship opportunities for the employers in our district. And then as I mentioned in Fondulac, we want to invite the K 12 partners in the Washington County area to come and train in advanced spaces at our campuses well. Then the fourth and final project is our regional Fire Training Center, more centrally located within our district, that projects we're still searching for the parcel of land because we want it to be centrally located, we serve over over 40, nearly 50 Fire Departments mostly volunteer. And right now we don't have a real robust opportunity to train those individuals. We have a small mobile trailer on our Beaver Dam campus, we need some more advanced training opportunities for those professions. And so we're looking at our 14,000 square foot facility to also include a garage for our fire engine and some large equipment. But more importantly, we want to provide advanced training opportunities where we're looking to add a three storey training tower to provide some very advanced training opportunities for our firefighters. We're also looking to provide a dry pond on that space to provide underwater and frozen ice rescue also allow the firefighters to draw water out of a pond like most rule departments have to do and other advanced props like a railcar prop or, or different types of props for advanced training. And we will add that site not just trained firefighters but EMT paramedic, and we're offering next fall a brand new fire medic program as well.

Fuzz Martin:

And the needs for firefighters and EMTs. And paramedics in our communities is very high right now.

Bonnie Baerwald:

Very, very high. And again, one of the reasons why we want to create that central locations is because we want to create a space where they can effectively and efficiently and and cost effectively come to do their training.

Fuzz Martin:

So the $55 million proposed in the referendum is going to be spread equally amongst property taxpayers in the Moraine Park Technical College District. Correct. So it's not just going to for those who may be in Washington County, it's not $55 million going right to Washington County. That's going to feel like 10 counties, you say portions of 10 counties.

Bonnie Baerwald:

Yep, portioned off to actually 10 counties but more importantly 130 municipalities and the price tag is for all $55 million, which we will not borrow all of it at once it will be over a period of three to four years. But if we did borrow it all at once, it will be 21 cents per 1000 Some dollars of value, most likely, it'll be around 12 cents per $1,000 of value in year one. Okay, so

Fuzz Martin:

if you have a $300,000 home, it's 36 bucks, 36 bucks. So to help support all of these programs in our district, which is, you know, the if you're listening unless you're in Germantown, I guess in Washington County, our district that covers everything for helping industry helping manufacturing, helping fire and EMTs and all of these projects, health care, yes, all of that, that we need 36 bucks years for a $300,000. Home doesn't sound too bad.

Bonnie Baerwald:

I think it's, it's very reasonable. And I didn't mention in my, in my comments that we didn't talk about the need, right, the job openings. That's one of the other things we researched a lot. In regards to job openings. It's why we picked the projects we did in the facilities we did, our projections show that there's going to be 14,000 job openings in manufacturing in the next 10 years. Again, that's our district, it's not the region or the state of Wisconsin, it's 14,000 job openings in in our district. And in the same regards 8000 job openings in healthcare.

Fuzz Martin:

Do you have any figures on how many the industries are down right now, because of the squeeze on hiring and that

Pete Rettler:

just about every manufacturer that we visit, and we visited, we had 13 manufacturers part of this, to design this, this manufacturing space, every one of them is looking for employees, every one of them is changing. If there's a manual process right now, they're looking at automation and robotics, and hence the need for that advanced manufacturing training to respond to the needs. But I don't think I've visited one yet that didn't have a large number of openings.

Fuzz Martin:

And you can imagine that there are a lot of businesses who are looking to expand, who are going to look to areas where the employees will be right. So having these training facilities will not only help those manufacturers and health care providers in our area, but also hopefully help encourage others to move to our areas. Well, correct?

Bonnie Baerwald:

Absolutely. I've been to meetings with site selectors, one of the first questions they ask is what kind of training institutions are in your area. And so again, having more advanced manufacturing program opportunities for for this community is is certainly going to attract additional employers, again, more employers, the higher the tax base, the less you and I have to pay or individual taxes.

Pete Rettler:

The other thing I want to add, Fuzz, is that employers, you know, oftentimes don't want to wait for even two years for for somebody or a one year technical diploma. And that's why it's so important what we're doing with the high schools and the dual credit, we want students to be able to graduate from our high schools, and have a credential that they can be employed immediately. And, you know, we hope at some point, they might come back to us and, and get an associate degree or a technical diploma. But right now, the need is so great that they want the employers want them right out of high school. And if we can provide some type of training, it's very difficult for the school districts to be able to afford all that capital equipment needed to train in that robotics area. So that's where we're hoping we can help out and that the other question I get asked is How come you need an advanced training thing of facility in Fond du Lac and in West Bend? And a big part of that answer is because we want to serve the high school. So we don't want to have a funnel, that kid have to drive all the way down to the West Bend campus. So that's why we're having one in each location.

Fuzz Martin:

Certainly, and having those in that proximity to then stops the Westman school district from having to hold the referendum to, to pay for that kind of equipment as well. Right? Correct. Final pitch, how should people vote on Tuesday, November 8, and why should they vote that way?

Bonnie Baerwald:

I would never describe or prescribe how anyone should vote. But I would say that we feel our referendum is an investment in in this community and beyond. And we think we're the economic engine for a lot of the employers in our area. So again, we see this as good sense fiscally prudent investment in economic development for the future of this community.

Fuzz Martin:

Where can people learn more about the referendum and see some of the information that you guys have posted?

Bonnie Baerwald:

Sure, we have a number of recordings and a lot of FAQ and, and additional information on our website, moraine. backslash future.

Fuzz Martin:

Great. Good luck to both of you. Thank you to you, and thanks for all that marine park does for our communities and our students are adult learners and all the businesses here. So thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you again to Bonnie Baerwald and Pete Rettler. for joining me on this week's episode of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz, I appreciate them sharing some of their time and research to inform us about the upcoming referendum. Since it seems that very few people in this area are talking about it. And we don't want you to be surprised when you go to the polls on Tuesday, November 8. If you ever have an idea for this show, 15 Minutes with Fuzz, please send that idea to me. You do so by emailing that spelled out or go to We have new episodes for you every Mo... Just kidding, every Tuesday! And you can get them right here on your favorite podcast player. Thanks again for listening and we'll talk to you next week right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.




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