Moraine Park Technical College 'looks to future' after $55 million referendum

After residents voted to pass a $55 million referendum for Moraine Park Technical College, leaders at the school say the four new projects funded by the plan will help the college be ready for the future.
After residents voted to pass a $55 million referendum for Moraine Park Technical College, leaders at the school say the four new projects funded by the plan will help the college be ready for the future.

FOND DU LAC – A month after voters across 10 counties approved a $55 million referendum for Moraine Park Technical College, the school's president is excited to start work on four facilities she believes will help the area prepare for future workforce demands.

More than 57% of voters on the November referendum said "yes" to approve the plan that will update four facilities in Fond du Lac and West Bend.

MPTC President Bonnie Baerwald said the four projects are expected to be built between 2023 and 2025, with the first project scheduled to break ground for construction in May.

The referendum's passage followed a 2-year-long process that included talking with local employers about what workforce skills they would need in the coming years, Baerwald said. In MPTC's region alone, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics census, employers will add over 14,000 manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years and 8,000 jobs in the health and human services field.

The projects will allow MPTC to expand its space to give more students hands-on training in those fields and expand the college's ability to offer courses to high school students.

"It will (help create) job readiness at an earlier age," Baerwald said.

Under the proposed plan, annual property taxes would increase by $21 per $100,000 of property value for the next 20 years.

Here are the four projects funded by the $55 million in additional spending approved by voters:

Advanced Manufacturing and Trades Center, Fond du Lac

The first project to get underway will be an "enhancement" of the Advanced Manufacturing and Trades Center on MPTC's main campus in Fond du Lac.

The project — expected to break ground this coming spring — will start with the construction of an Automation, Innovation and Robotics Center, or AIR, which will be intended to get manufacturing students ready to use advanced systems required by their future employers.

The second phase of the plan will remodel the current building, add classrooms and reconfigure the space to make it more effective and efficient for its students, according to Baerwald.

The construction will create expanded learning spaces for junior or senior high school students, with the intention that those students can get advanced training earlier so they are "ready for employment" or any future education opportunities, Baerwald said.

The project, which will cost around $13.7 million, should be completed in summer 2024, she said.

Fire Training Facility

The second project for MPTC is the construction of a new Fire Training Facility, which will serve both students and local fire departments.

MPTC doesn't have a dedicated space for this training except for small and aging sites on its Beaver Dam campus, which makes the new 14,000-square-foot facility a crucial need for the school, Baerwald said.

The college will work with the about 50 local volunteer and paid fire departments to ensure the designs meet the needs for the departments and help train students as well, Baerwald said.

The college is still negotiating to find a location for the site, potentially in Beaver Dam or Horicon. Once the site is confirmed, the school then hopes to begin construction in fall 2023 so it can be used in spring 2024.

The estimated price tag for the new facility will be about $9.3 million.

Manufacturing, Automation and Robotics Lab, West Bend

The third project MPTC plans to build is a new, 46,000-square-foot facility at its West Bend campus in Washington County.

The new lab would bring seven new manufacturing and trades programs to the campus and include components for robotics and automation like the new AIR center in Fond du Lac, according to Baerwald.

Construction on that facility is expected to begin in 2024 and cost about $18.5 million.

Health and Human Services Facility, Fond du Lac

The final project funded by MPTC's referendum is an "enhancement" of its health and human services facility in Fond du Lac that will include a "major remodel" and new addition, Baerwald said.

MPTC's region will see the need for 8,000 more jobs in the health and human services field, she said, which means training and skillset preparation will be a crucial part of the redevelopment.

The project includes the creation of a "hospital simulation suite" that would have life-size simulators that Baerwald described as similar to mannequins to help students train repeatedly in a safe environment.

The second phase of the project is an 11,000-square-foot addition for future health care programming and human services, with a potential focus in childcare.

Baerwald estimated the construction will start in 2024 and finish during the summer of 2025 at a cost of about $13.3 million.

Contact Bremen Keasey at 920-570-5614 or Follow him on Twitter at @Keasinho.

This article originally appeared on Fond du Lac Reporter: Moraine Park Technical College plans work after $55 million referendum