Decision on New Stanton vo-tech center likely in June

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Officials of all nine school districts that participate in the Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center — including Penn-Trafford — likely will decide in June whether they support a remodeling project at the center's New Stanton campus.

The vo-tech's board set up a revised timeline for the potential project last week after hiring Coraopolis-based CJL Engineering as the construction manager, said Nick Petrucci, Penn-Trafford's representative to the CWCTC.

In the new schedule, the vo-tech board plans to approve the specifications for a project for advertisement at its March 20 meeting and interview three prospective contractors in mid-May, Petrucci said.

All of the school board members then will be invited to a May 30 dinner to review the potential project, he said.

“It seems like it's going the right way,” Petrucci said.

The center's board voted in January to rescind a proposed $9 million contract for Chevron Energy Solutions after some of the member school boards raised questions about financing and the fact that only two firms bid on the project the first time around.

Some officials also were concerned about an arrangement in which Chevron would have been the construction manager and contractor through terms of Act 39, the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act.

Petrucci said he thinks officials in eight of the districts support the project but that he thinks those in one are reluctant to support a plan that costs more than $6 million. He didn't identify the district.

All nine must back the project for it to move forward.

“Believe me, getting nine unanimous is not easy,” Petrucci said.

2013-14 budget

With two months remaining before the school board is expected to pass a preliminary budget for 2013-14, the district's estimated expenses for the upcoming fiscal year are about $900,000 more than its projected revenues, according to Brett Lago, director of financial planning and business affairs.

As of Monday, Lago estimated the district to have $49.9 million in expenses next year, but he said that doesn't include a final quote for the district's health-care coverage.

The draft spending plan also doesn't fully account for personnel changes.

The board is expected to consider some resignations at its meeting next week.

In December, the board agreed to a ceiling through the state Taxpayer Relief Act that limits a potential property-tax rate increase to a maximum of 1.65 mills.

The board raised taxes by 1.6 mills last year. One mill generates about $270,000 in revenue for the district.

Governor's budget

The school board also is keeping its eye on any long-term state budget changes and how those might affect their operations.

President Jay Tray and board member Rich Niemiec recently received an update on Gov. Tom Corbett's budget address during a Pennsylvania School Boards Association meeting featuring some state House members from the region.

Tray and Niemiec said Corbett is proposing to add a second year to the state's freeze on funding the program that reimburses districts for renovations or new construction.

Penn-Trafford applied to the program last year as a place holder for potential reimbursement for its estimated $30 million renovation of the high school.

Niemiec also mentioned Corbett's estimate that Penn-Trafford would receive about $475,000 in 2014-15 and nearly $2 million more in subsequent years through a state block grant that the governor wants to establish if the state privatizes the liquor-store system.

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

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