New Castle News

May 31, 2014

City district last to OK vo-tech budget

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A majority of member school districts has approved the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center budget.

The latest approval of the $6.1 million spending plan was by the New Castle school district, which voted 8-0 at a special meeting Thursday. Karen Humphrey was absent.

New Castle’s share of the vo-tech budget is $1,507,000. However, the district has budgeted $1,652,000 for the vo-tech school for next year. That includes a balance owed for tuition from prior years, district business manager Joseph Ambrosini explained.

New Castle’s share is based on a projection of 118 students attending the vo-tech next school year. Of those, 35 would be considered special education students.

However, Ambrosini said he budgeted for fewer students because typically, the district has received $150,000 to $300,000 in reimbursement from the center for overpayment. If there is a shortfall at the end of the year in the amount the district has budgeted for next year’s students, funding would come from another tuition line item, he said.

The center’s cost per pupil charged to districts for 2014-15 is $11,500 — about $350 less than in previous years — and an additional $4,200 will be charged for each special education student.

Each year, each school district is assessed an amount based on the estimated number of students expected to attend the vo-tech. If the actual number of students enrolled exceeds the projection, the district must pay the difference. If it is fewer, the center must reimburse the district.

In the past few years, the debts between the districts and the vo-tech were askew because of problems with the practical nursing program draining operating funds.

After all of the funding was sorted out, it was determined the amount New Castle owed the vo-tech for previous years is $170,000, Ambrosini explained.

The career and technical center’s joint operating committee approved the proposed 2014-15 spending plan in April.

In order for the vo-tech budget to pass the state hurdle, approval by six of the eight member school boards is required, as well as yes votes by a total of 48 — a “super-majority” of all the board members, Rich explained.

In addition to New Castle, the districts approving the 2014-15 spending plan are Mohawk (7-0), Wilmington (8-0), Laurel (8-0), Shenango (9-0) and Neshannock (8-0).

The Ellwood City school board rejected the budget 0-9 and the Union board rejected it on a 3-5 vote.