Janesville charter school moving to Blackhawk Technical College

August 25, 2016
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GazetteXtra
August 25, 2016

A week before school starts, a Janesville charter school has announced it is moving from UW-Rock County to Blackhawk Technical College.

Rock University High School has operated out of UW-Rock County for two years.

“The move to BTC was motivated by several factors, including classroom and facility access needs and the growing enrollment of RUHS students,” according to a news release from the school district.

More to the point, officials at UW-Rock County told the school district it would need to start paying rent: $20,000. That was something the district could not afford, spokesman Patrick Gasper said.

At a Rock University High School Board meeting Aug. 1, board members talked about the challenges of moving into larger quarters on the UW-Rock County campus, 2909 Kellogg Ave.

Principal Tina Johnson said she didn't find out about the $20,000 rent until after that Aug. 1 meeting—about four weeks before the start of school.

Johnson began researching her options and discovered that BTC, 6004 S. County G, not only wanted the high school there, but would allow the school to use its facilities rent free.

The move appealed to both the school district and the high school's students and families.

“We sent out a survey asking people if they preferred using space in Parker High School or BTC,” Johnson said.

Respondents were overwhelmingly in favor of BTC.

Johnson said moving costs will be “minimal.” She and her staff are filling up boxes and bringing them to the new site.

Students will ride the bus to BTC.

School district and technical college officials think their missions match.

On its website, BTC touts “100-plus technical training options” and states, “The faculty, staff and administration at Blackhawk Technical College believe that access to quality education and relevant hands-on experience are the first steps to professional and personal success in any endeavor.”

Rock University High School has 40 students. Its website describes the school as one that “prepares students in grades 10-12 for higher learning through the integration of science, technology, engineering, the humanities, social sciences, the arts, languages, mathematics and global competencies.”

Gasper said the UW System's two-year colleges and BTC are “on par” with each other.

In a news release from the Janesville School District, UW Colleges Southwest Regional Dean Charles Clark said, “We look forward to continuing working with the district and the high school to expand educational opportunities in the Janesville community.”

It was not clear Thursday why UW-Rock County decided to charge rent. UW Colleges Southwest Region officials did not immediately return phone calls for comment.

Blackhawk Technical College sees the new arrangement as a chance to build the “high school of choice in Janesville,” one that takes high-achieving students and gives them the chance to take college-level courses, BTC President Tracy Pierner said.

The high school's students will have access to BTC's technology and curriculum, including the advanced manufacturing center in Milton.

The high school within a tech school is not a new concept, Pierner said. Henry Ford Early College in Dearborn, Michigan, allows high school students to get high school degrees and associate degrees in the health care field in five years.

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