Northwest Technical College faces major overhaul


Northwest Technical College in Bemidji is expected to undergo a major restructuring next year.

Declining enrollment has created a deficit of $300,000, or just over 3 percent of the school's budget.

President Richard Hanson wants to close that gap. But he has also called for a re-examination of the school's educational mission, academic programs and use of facilities.

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Northwest Tech spokesman Scott Faust said he's not sure what the changes will be, but said the campus should remain a technical school.

He did not rule out layoffs, program elimination or departmental mergers:

This isn't just a tweaking or a mid-course correction. Everything is on the table, so the change could be quite dramatic. But the most important measure of success will be whether the college is highly relevant to the needs of students, employers and the economic progress of the Bemidji region."

He said the president is considering expanding the school's customized training, traditional technical programs and developmental education.

Faust says campus officials will consult with regional businesses on what kind of programs are critical for the region.

The press release above says enrollment has been dropping since 2010, with an annual average drop of about 5.6 percent -- with a 4.2-percent projected decline for this year.

Such a drop, it says, "creates an unsustainable financial situation for the college."

Draft recommendations are expected in April.