Jeff Tech Operating Committee gets budget approval from four sending districts

The Jeff Tech Operating Committee met on April 26 and learned that its proposed budget for 2022-2023 has been approved by the four sending school districts, which include DuBois Area, Punxsutawney, Brookville, and Brockway.

The $11.4-million dollar package is a 4.9% increase over the 2021-2022 budget.

“We’re ready to move forward into 22-23 with that,” School Director Dr. Barry Fillman commented. He and Committee President Fred Park praised all the committee members as well as their boards and superintendents for the budget’s approval.

“…without the four sending school district’s support, we would be nowhere,” Dr. Park said.

Projected enrollment/PDE visit

School Principal Melissa Mowrey reported that as of April 26, the school has 505 students projected to be at Jeff Tech for the next school year. She said that recruiting efforts will continue over the summer, so additional students are expected.

“There are three shops that are completely full, actually over filled,” Mowrey said. “And there are five shops left that have five or less openings in them.”

Dr. Fillman added that the projected enrollment for next year shows a 50% increase in students compared with the 2018-2019 school year, which had 343 students.

“All of our staff deserves credit for that,” he said. He added that this will be highest level of students since 1988.

Dr. Fillman also announced that representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Education will be making an on-site visit to Jeff Tech on June 21 and 22 for the adult programs accreditation. If it is approved, adult students attending Jeff Tech programs can then be eligible for federal education grants.

Agenda items

*The committee approved a motion to sign an engagement letter with Campbell Durrant, P.C., a Pittsburgh law firm specializing in public sector labor laws.

Committee Solicitor Ed Ferraro of Brockway commented, “They have been around a for a long time and are aware of what the norms are on a lot of the labor contracts.”

The committee confirmed this action was in relation to the ongoing contract negotiations with the school’s teacher’s union. When asked later how the negotiations were going, Dr. Fillman said, “There’s work to be done.”

*The committee also granted Dr. Fillman permission to form a Perkins Consortium with the Brockway Area School District in an effort to help Brockway obtain Perkins Grants for their single vocational program.

“They don’t have enough programs on their own to be able to access Perkins funding, but by joining in with Jeff Tech, then they can have access to funding equivalent with the enrollment in their program.”

*With the increased enrollment in mind, the committee voted to create and advertise three new positions: assistant principal, secondary English, and secondary science.

*The committee also approved scheduling graduation for Wednesday, June 1, at 7 p.m. The ceremony will be held outside weather permitting.

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