A.W. Beattie Career Center in McCandless is one of four Pennsylvania schools nominated by Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis to compete for the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools award.
Superintendent Reggie Bonfield made the announcement to the school's joint committee last Thursday, noting that the Green Ribbon Schools program recognizes environmentally friendly schools across the country. He said Beattie was one of four selected from a field of 47 applicants.
In addition to the nomination, Beattie (along with the other three schools) has been named a 2012 Pennsylvania Pathways School and will receive a $3,000 award to continue toward their environmental goals, which include reducing their environmental impact; positively influencing the health and performance of students and staff; and making sure graduates are literate about the environment and sustainability.
Also during the meeting, board members discussed the school's budget, which is expected to be adopted next month.
Board president Rich Herko said elimination of the academic program has helped to shave approximately $200,000 off the budget. Officials declined to speculate on what this year's budget number will look like, but last year's budget was $7.6 million.
"This will mean the difference on whether students have to 'pay for play,' " said Avonworth representative Robert Wible, referring to a situation many schools now face in which students have to pay a fee in order to participate in a sport or activity.
Loss of the academic program means that North Allegheny will save approximately $100,000, while Shaler and Pine Richland will see savings of $70,000.
"That's the equivalent of one teacher's salary," said Mr. Herko, adding, "The circumstances are unfortunate, but [cutting the program] is helping the districts."
Fox Chapel and Hampton school districts, however, will see their share of the Beattie bill increase because their students did not participate in the academic program.
Beattie offers 16 professional training programs in fields such as cosmetology and auto mechanics. The McCandless vo-tech school serves Avonworth, Deer Lakes, North Allegheny, North Hills, Northgate, Pine-Richland, Shaler Area, Fox Chapel Area and Hampton.
Mr. Herko pointed out that Beattie carries a fund balance of approximately $1 million. "Why reserve 16 percent of our budget? Because we know the PSERS is rising."
All 500 school districts in Pennsylvania are facing a significant cost in rising contributions to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, due to underfunding and bad economic conditions.
"With retirement costs now budgeted at 12.36 percent of our payroll, that line continues to grow as the percentage [of retirees] grows, and this will become unmanageable for us by the end of this decade," Mr. Herko said.
Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer: email@example.com .