The next step is a vote from the career and technical center on whether to include Niles in its district.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- The school board hopes to join the Trumbull Career and Technical Center beginning July 1, 2003.
Board members unanimously passed a resolution at an organizational meeting Thursday to join TCTC and request approval from that board. The vote came after the board emerged from an executive session on other matters.
"This is the first step in the process of affiliation," Superintendent Patrick Guliano said.
The next step is approval from TCTC's board. Officials there have said the influx of new students isn't expected to be a problem. If a district changes its career and technical provider, it must submit a plan to the education department by the 20th of the month before the state board meeting. The state board general meets the second Monday of each month.
Voted against contract: Last month, board members voted against a new contract to continue the district's affiliation with the Gordon D. James Career Center, Lordstown, objecting to the length and a lack of control. Lordstown operates the center for the five district compact that also includes Niles, Howland, McDonald and Weathersfield. The current contract expires in June.
Ohio law requires school districts to provide career and technical education for students in grades 11 and 12. Districts must provide at least 20 classes and 12 programs.
The resolution passed Thursday calls for a one-year contract under TCTC's open-enrollment policy. Niles already sends 17 students to TCTC in addition to those that attend Gordon James.
Pays most: Niles sends the most students to the James Center of the schools that participate and therefore pays the most in tuition. School districts that send students to TCTC don't pay tuition, but property and business owners in those districts are assessed a property tax without a vote. Currently that's about 2 mills.
Guliano said any tax increase wouldn't occur until 2003, but the board is exploring its options.
With the increase in the number of districts participating in TCTC, the state may re-evaluate and lower the millage for all of the districts, he said.
"This superintendent and this board of education are not interested in increasing people's taxes," Guliano said. "We're looking at some creative alternatives to that end."
He mentioned a possible reduction in the millage collected by the school districts to make up for any increase because of the career center change.
Niles' decision puts the other compact districts in a position of having to decide how to provide career and technical education for their students. Because Niles pays the most to operate the compact, the future of the James center is uncertain.
In Lordstown: Lordstown Superintendent Ray Getz said his district isn't looking at an affiliation with TCTC at this point. District officials are talking to representatives from the Ohio Department of Education to determine their options.
"This is very unusual and it doesn't come up very often," Getz said.
Time is of the essence, but the rarity of the situation is making it difficult for ODE to answer questions concerning options.
"It's very difficult to provide adequate vocational education for students in the short amount of time we have to change the entire vehicle," he said.
There could be some challenges to the changes made by the affected school districts, Getz said.
"It's just extremely unfortunate that the taxpayers will be assessed substantial additional millage when we were running an efficient and quality program without those assessments," he said.