BY BECKY GINOS
KAYSVILLE—The administration and faculty at Davis Technical College were pleased with a visit from Gov. Gary Herbert last week to unveil his budget plan for the coming year. Not only was it an honor to have the governor on campus but he also included $33.4 million in the proposal for a new allied health building.
“We were cheering in our seats,” said Director of Marketing & Community Relations for DTC, Melanie Hall. “You can imagine as a small college that space is constrained – we have nowhere to grow. Classes are at capacity. With the allied building we can shift all the programs to one area rather than having classes spread over other areas. It brings them all back to campus.”
Health professions are in high demand, she said. “It’s important to have a pipeline to the hospitals,” through training.
“One of the most impactful items was the request for the legislature to fund our allied health building,” said Michael Bouwhuis, DTC President/CEO. “The demand for trained people has outstripped our facilities. We’ve been trying to do this for 13 years. For him to recognize our need for that building is very important. Now we have to try to get it funded through the legislature.”
Herbert named 2018 “The Year of Technical Education,” said Bouwhuis. “I think he believes it would be good to have a building funded this year for the technical education cause,” he said. “It indicates that we’re one of the most valuable forms of education to get immediate results and get people into the workforce.”
In addition to the DTC building, part of the 72 percent overall budget plan of new revenue slated for education included a 4 percent increase to the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU).
“That is on par with last year,” said Craig Carter, Davis School District Business Administrator & Assistant Superintendent. “Any new funding is going to help the school district. The governor has always been a supporter of education. The legislators certainly have an agenda but they’ve been much better about equalization to help districts like ours with a low property tax valuation.”
Carter said the district has been working on ways to enhance the use of technology in the schools. “We’re experimenting with blended learning and pathways to look for ways to personalize the education process,” he said. “We look forward to the next three months working with the legislature. They are good people and they realize that kids are our greatest assets so they do what they can to provide for them.”
The governor’s prosed funding is important to teachers as well. “We’ve gotten great support from Gov. Herbert. The budget he releases every year is very generous,” said Allison Riddle, Elementary Mentor Coordinator for the Davis School District. “He’s a very education-minded governor. He knows without strong education businesses won’t thrive. (However), we rarely get what he suggests. The legislature always keeps up with growth but we add 10,000 kids each year. We’re hopeful something will happen with the governor’s plan. We’re very grateful. I’ve worked closely with him and I appreciate his focus.”
Bouwhuis said some major things came out of the governor’s proposal. “One is the recognition by the head of state government that technical education is a critical item and integral to the growth of Utah,” he said. “It tells the rest of Utah that technical education has a quick payoff to get people into the workforce. It gives high school students and adults the chance to get a job that’s going to pay $75,000 to $80,000 a year.”
It’s a great climate to be in technical education, he said. “It’s finally being recognized and placed in the forefront of what’s going on in the economy. It’s exciting to be in Utah. I talk to my peers outside of the state and the same conditions don’t exist,” said Bouwhuis. “Things are popping with our economy. We’re really fortunate to be in Utah.”