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June 20, 2013

Vo-Tech budget passes, school to stay open

NEW CASTLE — The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center won’t close its doors and summer school can begin July 1.

The vo-tech school’s $6.8 million budget for 2013-14 has been adopted by six of the eight member districts and a majority of their board members.

The Pennsylvania School Code requires two-thirds of the member districts to adopt the budget, along with a majority of all board members. Each school board has nine members.

Dr. Alfonso “Butch” Angelucci of Union, who is serving as vo-tech superintendent until June 30, sent an email to the other seven superintendents Wednesday informing them the budget has passed. According to his email, six of the eight districts approved the budget, and 45 of the 72 school board members voted for it.

Mohawk and Wilmington were the last two to approve the $6,842,838 spending plan, following two months of controversy over the expense of the center’s adult practical nursing program.

The districts’ share of the budget, collectively, is about $4.75 million, based on a projected enrollment of 385 students for the 2013-14 school year at an estimated per-pupil cost of $12,339.

At its meeting last month, the center’s joint operating committee voted to terminate the practical nursing program after the existing class graduates in February, so the nursing program can no longer draw on the operating funds of the center that come largely from the school districts for their students’ enrollment.

Because of that program’s drain on the funding, the center has owed six of the member districts a total of $450,573 for the 2010-11 school year. That outstanding debt represents the difference between enrollment projections and actual numbers of students attending.

The amount owed from 2011-12 was not released before member districts voted on the center’s spending plan and still has not been made public.

Four districts approved the budget over the last week and a half — Wilmington, New Castle, Ellwood City and Mohawk.

Neshannock and Laurel had approved the spending plan unanimously before the budget controversy erupted.

Shenango rejected the budget 8-1 and Union voted it down 8-0.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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