Blackhawk Tech consolidating campuses, expanding programs

Beloit Center will close by end of August
Blackhawk Tech consolidating campuses, expanding programs

Blackhawk Technical College is consolidating its five campuses in Rock and Green counties to three to save money while continuing to expand programs.

President Tracy Pierner said the college will exit its lease for the Beloit Center at the end of August. He said leaving that building will save about $315,000 in operating costs.

“The need for bricks and mortar is becoming less and less as education goes to more hybrid approaches and online approaches to learning,” Pierner said.

Blackhawk Technical College is consolidating its five campuses to three to save costs & expand programs. President Tracy Pierner says no staff will lose jobs #news3 pic.twitter.com/FU0RZEds7D

— Jenna Middaugh (@JennaMiddaugh) March 20, 2018

He said there were 118 students enrolled at the Beloit campus last year, which is down significantly from 2015 when more than 500 students were enrolled. Pierner said enrollment used to be much higher as people rushed to get their GED before the requirements changed. He also said with low unemployment rates, many people are working instead of going to school.

“The college had gone through a number of years of rapid enrollment growth where we needed square footage, and we’ve been in a pretty steady decline over the last number of years,” Pierner said. “So we’re really back to the late 1990s, early 2000 enrollment levels and therefore, our locations should reflect that.”

The college plans to partner with local groups like Beloit Health System, the School District of Beloit, Brother Dutton and the Beloit Public Library to continue to offer programs in the Beloit area, according to Pierner. He said the new programs will be finalized by April 11.

“Actually, the Beloit area will have more options than they currently do,” he said. “By dispersing out into the community, we might be able to provide access to more students.”

Blackhawk Tech is also looking to consolidate services at its Center for Transportation Studies, according to Pierner. The building on West U.S. Highway 14 in Janesville has been on the market for more than a year. He said there’s been interest but no offers. Once the building is sold, the money will be used to build a new facility at the central campus on South County Road G in Janesville. About 50 students are enrolled in the auto and diesel programs at that facility.

“It’s not that we’re getting rid of programs, we’re just getting rid of bricks and mortar,” Pierner said. “If you were to follow the dollars, what this is going to mean is we’re probably going to be able to launch new programs and hire more people is what ultimately happens. So instead of paying for bricks and mortar, we’re going to pay for people to deliver services.

He said selling that building would save the college about $100,000 a year in operating costs.