State leaders tour tech ed program, talk funding

Gov. Scott Walker tours the tech ed. program at Kaukauna H.S. on Mon, Feb. 17, 2014. (WLUK/Andrew LaCombe)
Gov. Scott Walker tours the tech ed. program at Kaukauna H.S. on Mon, Feb. 17, 2014. (WLUK/Andrew LaCombe)

KAUKAUNA - Some of the state's future workers showed off their technical skills to state leaders Monday morning.

Gov. Scott Walker toured Kaukauna High School, as he continues to focus on workforce development.

An electronic car and a water testing robot are two devices Kaukauna students showed the governor.

"Really impressed at Kaukauna here," said Walker. "It's great to see, most importantly, the enthusiasm of the students."

Senior Maggie Fink plans to pursue an engineering degree next year at UW-Madison.

"This has really inspired me to learn more about this and really drove my passion into this industry," said Fink.

The state's current budget includes $115 million set aside for workforce development.

Gov. Walker wants to use money from the state's projected surplus and spend $35 million more. It would go toward several programs, including dual-enrollment opportunities between high schools and technical colleges.

Students at Kaukauna can take classes at Fox Valley Tech.

"It's a great partnership," said Walker. "We need to do more of that. We're putting our money where our mouth is."

Last week, the Assembly approved the governor's proposed increase by a 77-22 vote.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, voted against it, proposing an alternate plan to spend $100 million of the projected surplus on technical colleges.

"It's such a vital issue right now, and it needs more attention than what it's gotten," said Barca.

State Superintendent Tony Evers was with the governor in Kaukauna. We asked him if he thinks enough money is being spent on job training.

"We're all working together on that. I think we're heading in the right direction," said Evers. "Certainly finances and resources continue to be an issue. I think our high schools are really stepping to the plate."

Evers says Kaukauna is overcoming funding issues by partnering with Fox Valley Tech and other local employers to expand opportunities for students. Currently, 17 students in the district are enrolled in Youth Apprenticeship programs.

The state Senate still has to approve the $35 million increase before the money could be used by the state.