MCDONALD SCHOOLS Niles board's refusal to keep career center draws criticism

A board member called Niles' decision a terrible business move.
McDONALD-- Board of education members and administrators are critical of the Niles school board for its decision not to renew a contract with the Gordon D. James Career Center.
Students from Niles make up 40 percent of the enrollment at the career center in Lordstown, McDonald schools Treasurer Thomas Radabaugh said.
Niles' vote on Dec. 20, 2001, has essentially led to the demise of the center, Radabaugh explained after board member Robert Jones asked what effect the vote will have.
The Niles vote made moot the votes of four other district school boards -- McDonald, Weathersfield, Lordstown and Howland -- to renew their contracts with the center to provide vocational education of students in those districts.
Jones called the move by Niles a bad business move, and said he does not understand why four other districts can see the career center as a good idea.
"Shame on the people in Niles," he said. "They need to stand up and yell at their board."
Here's the problem: The vote has also created a dilemma in planning for education of vocational education students in McDonald, Radabaugh said.
Radabaugh said the vote by Niles will cause the demise of a compact of schools that had all been required to sign a new five-year contract with the center by Dec. 31. It will also force the hand of the other four districts.
He said McDonald is now looking into its alternatives, and has until Oct. 15 to find a way to provide a 12-course vocational education program for its students.
Superintendent Robert Bloniarz said administrators have already talked to the Trumbull County Technical Center, which conducts vo-ed classes for other schools in Trumbull County; as well as Mahoning County and the state to begin to find a solution.
The changeover takes the state funding of vocational education out of the local districts' hands, and requires that a tax be assessed districts who send students to the county school.
Building progress: Also Thursday, the board reviewed bids on the planned new elementary school and is expected to meet in special session before the end of the month to approve contracts.
The board and administrators met with architects from MS Consultants, Youngstown, project manager from OBrien-Krietzburg, Pittsburgh and Jeff Tuckerman, Northeast Ohio coordinator for the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
Radabaugh said bids for the project have to be reviewed by the facilities commission, adding they came in a little high but should be within the district's total budget.
The projected cost of the new elementary school is $7.5 million and the cost of razing the Roosevelt Elementary is $900,000.
The board of education Thursday named Atty. William Roux new board president, and former board president Robert McClary as vice president.

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