Lehighton approves CCTI budget
Carbon Career and Technical Institute got the fourth sending school district approval it needed Monday night to pass its 2019-20 operating budget,
Lehighton Area School District’s board of directors unanimously approved CCTI’s spending plan, joining Palmerton, Panther Valley and Jim Thorpe before it. Lehighton’s approval came several months after its administrators questioned CCTI’s fund balance and asked it to give a 10 percent reduction to sending districts.
“There was never a doubt Lehighton’s school board would approve the CCTI operating budget,” CCTI Administrative Director Dave Reinbold said after the meeting. “They have a long tradition of supporting career and technical education and CCTI. We will continue to work together to provide Carbon County students quality programs, equipment and instruction while maintaining fiscal responsibility.”
Had CCTI complied with the request for a 10 percent reduction to sending districts, CCTI officials said, it would be staring an $800,000 deficit in the face.
CCTI’s fund balance was around $5 million, which was over 50 percent of its overall budget, its business administrator Jeff Deutsch said at a meeting in Palmerton earlier this year. However, it planned to transfer $1.9 million from its general fund to its capital reserve fund for future projects such as replacing hot water boilers, digital cameras and other security measures, parking lot paving and a roof replacement, among other things.
The school needed approval from both four of the five sending districts and 23 of the 45 overall sending district board members. Going into Monday night, Lehighton and Weatherly had yet to approve the budget. Had one of those two schools not approved the budget, CCTI could not have spent money after July 1.
CCTI’s $8.5 million budget is a 2.4 percent increase over last year, but Deutsch said the school has not asked for an increase from sending districts in seven years.
Earlier this month 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.
Lehighton’s former business manager, Brian Feick, initially recommended not approving CCTI’s budget due to the excess fund balance.
“I wish he was here so he could have explained himself in more detail why he was looking for a deduction from CCTI,” Lehighton Director Steve Holland said Monday. “My vote is yes because we don’t have that answer.”
Reinbold said CCTI will continue looking to be fiscally responsible into the future.
“Despite the fact that our state subsidy will be reduced for the 2019-20 school year, this will be the sixth consecutive year we have not asked for an increase in funding from our five county school districts,” he said. “It is our goal to continue that trend as long as possible.”