LORDSTOWN SCHOOLS Board moves toward decision

The board gave a 3 percent increase to the career center principal for this school year.
LORDSTOWN -- Without any other options, the village board of education will likely ask to join the Trumbull County Career and Technical Center.
"For a year and a half we negotiated and worked and hoped the compact [running the Gordon D. James Career Center] would continue," said Lordstown Superintendent Ray Getz at a school board meeting Tuesday. "Unfortunately, Niles chose not to continue."
Lordstown, Niles, Howland, Weathersfield and McDonald school districts comprised the Gordon D. James Career Center compact. The contract for the center, by which districts pay tuition per student who attends, expires at the end of this school year. Lordstown runs the center.
Niles voted in December not to sign on for another five-year contract and has been accepted to TCTC. Because Niles sends the most students to the center and pays the most in tuition, the other districts would have had to make up the difference to keep the center going.
Both McDonald and Weathersfield also have been accepted to TCTC.
Two options: Lordstown isn't large enough to run the center on its own, leaving it with the option of contracting for career and technical services or joining TCTC. State law requires school districts to provide 12 programs and 20 classes in career and technical education to students in their junior and senior years of high school.
TCTC has rejected attempts by other districts to contract for services.
"We're left with one option and that's to simply join TCTC," Getz said.
Property owners in districts participating in TCTC must pay an unvoted property tax of about 2 mills.
Getz said TCTC provides quality education, but Lordstown's reluctance to join was an effort to keep the James center open and to avoid shifting the burden of additional taxes onto property owners. He suggested the board schedule a special meeting in early March to decide how to proceed.
The James center is likely to close at the end of this year leaving the 20 teachers and about 25 staff members out of jobs. Mark Ferrara, treasurer, said there have been preliminary discussions about TCTC's using some of the classroom space if they run out of room, but the discussions were informal. No decisions have been made, he said.
Getz suggested the board establish a facilities committee to look at the best use of the buildings.
"I don't see that building becoming an albatross for us," he said of the center.
Raise for principal: Board members also voted 4-1 to increase by 3 percent the 2001-2002 salary for Roland Purnell, James center principal. The pay increases from $54,000 to $55,620. Timothy Rech, school board president, pointed out that 3 percent is consistent with what was given to other district administrators this year.
The increase is spread among the five districts that make up the compact.
Becky Albrecht, board member, said she voted against the increase because of the district's uncertain situation. The district is in fiscal emergency, and state oversight commission members have said that additional cuts are expected.
"I'm not comfortable increasing administration wages until a final decision has been made on what the cuts are going to be," Albrecht said.

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