Vo-tech's Budget Is Questioned

Posted: April 11, 1991

For almost an hour Monday, Bristol Township school board members fired questions at two Bucks County Vocational Technical School administrators - demanding to know why the vocational school had asked for an increase of more than half a million dollars from the district for its 1991-1992 budget.

The board then voted, 6-1, to postpone action on the request.

The vocational school is financed by the six lower and central Bucks school districts that send students through its doors. Districts pay $5,017 per student per year, vo-tech administrative director Lamar J. Snyder told the township board Monday. About 37 percent of the students - 406 out of 1098 - are from Bristol Township.

Because Bristol Township has the highest number of students, it pays the most overall. Snyder asked the board to approve a budget that would require the district to pay a total of $2,082,340. The amount represents a 38 percent increase to the district, or $576,102 more than last year's payout of $1,506,238. The technical school is asking its six sending districts to approve a 1991-1992 budget of $6,349,458.

"In an era when everyone's on an austerity program, when everyone else is cutting back, I see nothing but escalation in this budget," board President Marie Elena Dolan told Snyder.

Snyder shifted uncomfortably at the podium for 45 minutes as he and vo-tech business manager Lawrence Weng explained the intricacies of the tech school budget. But the board apparently wasn't getting the answers it wanted. It voted to postpone action on the budget until, said board member Mark Bailey, ''we can review the budget in more detail."

Board member Edward Godin protested that because of the delay, the board would have to call a special meeting to vote by a May 9 deadline. That's when the vo-tech school board will pass its final budget.

"It's not our purpose to strangle the vo-tech program, but to get more answers," Dolan told Godin after the vote to table the budget had been taken. ''Since we pay the largest percentage of their budget, I think we deserve a little more time."

After the meeting, township Superintendent David Witmer said the vocational school is "overstaffed administratively and overstaffed generally, and their shops are underutilized." He compared the vocational school's average class

size of 10 to 15 students with the Harry S. Truman High School average class of 25 to 30 students.

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