ShareThis Page

Uniontown, Laurel Highlands meet to discuss plans for vo-tech

| Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

Laurel Highlands and Uniontown Area school boards are exploring their options regarding the Fayette County Area Vocational Technical School, which could include separating from the facility.

The two boards met Thursday.

Students from Laurel Highlands, Uniontown, Albert Gallatin and Brownsville are enrolled at FCAVTS.

Laurel Highlands and Uniontown make up 57 percent of the students. Laurel Highlands provides about 38 percent of contributions to the technical school's capital expenditures; Uniontown contributes nearly 31 percent.

For this year, the cost for each school district to send a student to the technical school is $6,705. Laurel Highlands sends 95 students; Uniontown has 171 students.

FCAVTS officials are studying plans for either renovating or building a new school. Both options would cost school districts.

With Uniontown and Laurel Highlands working on renovation and building projects of their own, officials at both districts wanted to review their options in relation to their involvement with the vocational school.

FCAVTS officials have five options in front of them. The lowest cost is to renovate the existing 98,615 square feet of the school at a cost of $18.6 million with an estimated total reimbursement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education of $4.8 million. The reimbursement is calculated and based on participating market value. Laurel Highlands would pay $5.16 million for that project, and Uniontown would pay $4.2 million.

The highest cost would be the option to construct an 89,082-square-foot facility at a cost of $21.9 million with a reimbursement of $4.2 million. With the reimbursement calculated and based on participating market value, Laurel Highlands would pay $6.6 million, and Uniontown would pay $5.4 million.

"Believe me, both school districts are satisfied with the quality of education at the current facility, but we have a dilemma," said Charles Machesky, superintendent of the Uniontown Area School District.

While no costs have yet to be figured and compared, the two school districts presented their own options that would include remaining at the same FCAVTS building with the renovations, build a new building with participation from all four districts or a new facility for Laurel Highlands and Uniontown either at the current site or a new site at Penn State Fayette or somewhere else. There was a third option for Laurel Highlands and Uniontown to each provide five to eight programs at the site of the high schools with students at both schools being able to attend either site.

Those 10 to 16 programs between the two schools could very well offer up-to-date and high-priority occupations program such as natural gas production, criminal justice, robotics training and electrical engineering.

There were many questions by directors from both school boards, but Machesky said there are a lot of questions that cannot be answered. He said the purpose of last night's meeting was to look into options.

"Is the consensus to examine or not to examine?" Machesky said, adding that there is no hurry to come to any decision.

Machesky said there is no debt between either school district and FCAVTS, and the Articles of Agreement expired about two years ago, and last night was the right time to begin the process of exploring options.

Machesky said the FCAVTS staff should also have some say about what happens as their jobs could be on the line.

One FCAVTS instructor who attended yesterday's meeting said faculty and students are concerned.

The 14 school board directors unanimously voted to put together a committee composed of Uniontown and Laurel Highlands school board directors as well as a representative from FCAVTS to explore options. These will be presented to both school boards.

Information will be gathered from students, teachers, parents and district officials before a decision is made.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me