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January votes to determine future of New Stanton vo-tech center

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

January is pivotal for the proposed remodeling at Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center.

By the end of the month, officials with all nine school districts that participate in the vo-tech school must decide whether they support the estimated $9 million plan for the first major upgrade at the New Stanton campus since it opened in 1975.

The Penn-Trafford and Yough school boards approved the project last year. That leaves Belle Vernon Area, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield Area, Jeannette, Mount Pleasant Area, Norwin and Southmoreland to back or reject the proposal by Chevron Energy Solutions.

Officials of all nine districts must endorse the project for it to proceed. The schools governing body, the joint-operating committee, pushed its monthly meeting back by two weeks to Jan. 30 to give the school boards enough time to consider the plan.

Penn-Trafford school board member Nick Petrucci, who sits on the vo-tech board, said during a Jan. 7 meeting that officials in two districts that are “not very enthusiastic” about the project. He didn't identify which ones.

But Mt. Pleasant school board member Richard Albright said during an interview last week that he was optimistic about the project's chances. Albright, a past chairman of the vo-tech committee, said the project is important for improving the learning environment for the students.

The plans include upgrading the building's heating and cooling systems, replacing the roof and windows and improving the mechanical areas in the center.

“All the districts have an understanding of what needs to be done, and I think that they'll see to it being done,” Albright said.

Jeannette School Board President Bill Brasco, who is his district's liaison to the vo-tech school, said he is “99 percent sure” that Jeannette officials will support the project.

“We are going to be on board with the vo-tech,” Brasco said.

Vo-tech administrative director Brad Elwood and assistant administrative director Jeffrey L. Geesey did not respond to messages about the proposed project.

Penn-Trafford officials have estimated the district's annual contribution to the vo-tech school would increase by $55,000 for 15 years because of the project. The district already contributes about $400,000 a year to the center.

Superintendent Thomas Butler said the Penn-Trafford board will vote on an updated resolution for the project on Jan. 14 because an attorney for the vo-tech school passed along some changes.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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