New Castle News

March 26, 2013

Career and technical center budget gets first OK

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s budget passed its first hurdle with the joint operating committee’s approval last week.

The spending plan for 2013-14 — totaling $6,842,838 — now must be approved by the board of each of the participating school districts before June 30.

The districts’ share totals $4,750,356, based on their estimated student enrollment for the 2013-14 school year.

Thursday’s vote on the budget was 6-1, with New Castle member David DiGiammarino dissenting.

The center’s director, Dr. Andrew Tommelleo, said he had presented a budget to the districts’ superintendents two months ago and they demanded at least $100,000 be cut in order for it to meet their approval.

“We’ve since trimmed the budget and made ... cuts,” he said. “It’s as lean as it can be. It will be a year of watchdog costs.”

He said he and the school’s business administrator, Chastity Williams, managed to cut $100,300 from the budget originally proposed.

Tommelleo commented the spending plan is “extremely lean, too lean, and there’s not much room to make any additions.”

He said the budget was trimmed by reducing insurance rates, decreasing retirement contributions from 20 to 18 percent and cutting supplies.

Two teaching positions eliminated last year will be reflected in the budget and the debt service is being refinanced at a savings, Tommelleo said.

The school’s estimated per-pupil cost is $12,338.59, including debt service and special education, he reported, adding the budget was based on an estimated 385 students enrolled for the next school year.

The budget also reflects a decrease in the practical nursing program budget by $225,617. Tommelleo explained those costs were trimmed in advertising, supplies and part-time staff hours.

The nursing program also has increased tuition, will have a decrease in salaries because of reduction in staff and anticipates implementing new programs to generate more revenues, he added.

DiGiammarino said he had voted against the budget because the adult practical nursing program, which operates independently, owes about $543,000 to the center — and he fears that amount is likely to grow bigger before it gets smaller.

The program’s debt to the center is based on rent and operating costs and is growing because its enrollment has been down, DiGiammarino said.

The practical nursing budget is intermingled with that of the center, and the center owes several school districts money, including New Castle, that it has not paid in reimbursements for the difference in enrollment projections versus actual pupil enrollment.

Dr. Alfonso “Butch” Angelucci, Union school district superintendent, said that after the cuts were made, he and the other superintendents “were satisfied that we gave (the administration) a homework assignment and they fulfilled it to our satisfaction.”