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Butler County vo-tech budget approval expected |

Butler County vo-tech budget approval expected

| Friday, March 13, 2009 12:00 a.m

A proposed $4.1 million budget for the Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School appears headed to approval over the objection of South Butler County and Seneca Valley school boards.

Boards at four of the seven districts that send students to the Butler Township vo-tech school have approved the budget for 2009-10, while two have rejected it.

To be approved, a majority of the 63 board members among the seven member districts must support the budget. They vote by mail-in ballots which will be counted at the next meeting of the vo-tech’s joint operating committee meeting April 2.

With vote results known from four districts, the tally stands at 21 in favor, 13 opposed.

Supporting the spending plan to date are Karns City Area, unanimously; Moniteau, 8-0; and Slippery Rock Area and Mars Area, where officials could not provide vote tallies.

South Butler County School Board rejected the budget by a vote of 8-1 on Wednesday. In Seneca Valley, the board rejected the budget on Monday by a vote of 5-3.

Butler Area School Board is to vote on the budget on Monday. That district sends between 375 and 400 students to the school, the most of any district.

The vo-tech budget consists of $4.07 million for operating expenses, and $30,000 in budget reserve. It increases spending by 1.8 percent from the current year.

Vo-tech officials did not return calls for comment.

The vo-tech school offers 16 courses in career and technical training to eligible high school students in Butler County.

Students spend two hours of their school day at the vo-tech school, and the remainder at their home school.

South Butler County sends about 100 students to the vo-tech school, spokesman Todd O’Shell said. The district’s share of the 2009-2010 budget is 8.9 percent, or about $360,000.

James Jones, president of the South Butler County School Board, said he believed the school board could not “in good conscience” approve a vo-tech budget that includes raises for vo-tech teachers higher than those the district is offering its own teachers.

The vo-tech budget is offering raises of around 4 percent, while South Butler County has offered a flat dollar amount to its teachers that equates to about 3.25 percent, Jones said.

South Butler County teachers are now working without a contract, and were on strike for 18 days this school year. The district is expected to be returning to negotiations with its teachers union after the school board rejected the report of an arbitration board Wednesday.

If the majority of the member districts approve the budget, South Butler County would still have to pay its share despite its objection, O’Shell said. If the budget is rejected, it would have to be revisited, Jones said.

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