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April 30, 2013

Vo-tech school budget still on hold

NEW CASTLE — A debt owed to school districts is prompting their boards to look harder at the proposed vo-tech budget.

So far, three of the county’s eight districts — Laurel, Neshannock and Union — have adopted the 2013-14 spending plan for the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center.

New Castle, Wilmington, Mohawk, Shenango and Ellwood City have delayed voting on the budget until May. And some say they want more information about how the center will repay a debt owed for the difference between pupil enrollment projections and actual attendees for the 2010-11 school year.

The career and technical center needs six of the eight member school districts and a majority of all board members in those districts to approve the budget before it is submitted to the state, which must be done by June 30.

The crux of the matter is how the joint operating committee and administrators intend to resolve an ongoing deficit created by the school’s practical nursing program. The adult program operates under the umbrella of the vocational technical school on Phelps Way and currently owes the center nearly a half-million dollars in back rent and operating expenses.

This debt has caused the center’s administration to use money from its general fund to help the nursing program. As a result, the school has not been able to repay its member school districts for the enrollment differences, and can’t until the nursing program makes good on its debt, center director Dr. Andrew Tommelleo has explained.

Last month, the career and technical center’s joint operating committee approved the vo-tech’s 2013-14 general budget, allowing practical nursing program director Betty Tillia one year to come up with a viable plan to boost the program’s revenues and repay the debt.

The center’s joint operating committee is comprised of school board members of participating districts.

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