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2 districts still need to approve CCTI budget

Published June 24. 2019 12:27PM

Carbon Career & Technical Institute has hit a snag with its $8.5 million operating budget. Two districts have not approved the budget, and the June 30 deadline for adoption is rapidly approaching.

The budget was presented to the partnering school districts of Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Weatherly, Panther Valley and Palmerton in December 2018.

CCTI has asked for $6.38 million from its partnering districts, and CCTI plans to fund the difference.

Three of the five school districts — Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley and Palmerton have approved the amount.

Lehighton and Weatherly voted against the budget.

Chief among the concerns of Lehighton and Weatherly is the ongoing surplus that CCTI has accumulated over the past five years. The 2014-15 school year saw a surplus of $638,643; 2015-16 school year $526,977; the 2016-17 school year $376,000; the 2017-18 school year $292,467 and a projected $200,000 surplus for the current school year.

Last week at CCTI’s Joint Operating Committee meeting, Andrew Yenser, representative from Lehighton school district, made a motion to reimburse each district their formulated share of the $200,000.

Shay Wagner of Weatherly seconded the motion.

The motion, however, failed 3-2.

Dave Reinbold, director for CCTI, said Thursday, “We have not increased the per-student amount we have asked of the partnering schools in five years despite our increase in costs. We have budgeted and spent our money wisely.”

He said CCTI is “asking for the same amount we asked for five years ago, yet this year it has become an issue.”

Jonathan J. Cleaver, superintendent of Lehighton said, “The issue is that the budget is simply presented and we are expected to pass it without any dialogue or discussion. There isn’t a process for adjusting the budget and there should be.

“Your health care fund is operating at 288% and you have a fund balance of over $3 million. We want to be able to negotiate when there is a projected $200,000 surplus again for this year prior to passing a budget.”

Weatherly school district does not have current plans to revisit the budget issue since there has not been a change in what was declined earlier this year. Lehighton, however, does have the CCTI budget listed as an agenda item tonight, and representatives from CCTI are expected to attend.

All five school districts need to approve the budget for adoption by the June 30 deadline for it to be implemented.

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