Augusta-area technical center adds cost-sharing option the budget if more funding is needed – Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

AUGUSTA — The Capital Area Technical Center Agreement passed by most Augusta-area school boards over the past week includes a cost-sharing element for the districts served by the center if more funding is needed for the regional school.

The addition to the tech center agreement is not expected to cause much of a change, but rather provide what officials say is a security blanket for any expenses that exceed the  center’s budget. It had to be approved by each of the school boards that send their students there.

The technical school in Augusta, known also as CATC, draws enrollment from surrounding schools so students can learn a technical skill, sometimes resulting in a certification or college credits. The sending schools are required to create their schedules in a way that responds to CATC’s schedule. Capital Area Technical Center offers classes from culinary arts to firefighting to computer technology.

Nick Gannon, director of the tech center, explained that the state’s funding formula for Career and Technical Education schools changed from an expense model, where schools were reimbursed for a two-year period, in which increased spending was possible. Now it’s funded through an EPS model, which leaves less room for raising funds beyond what the school are formulated to get.

The technical center is funded by the state using the same formula used to fund public schools in the state and receives some local allocation and tuition from the sending schools. The center has to have its budget in by Dec. 31, before other school districts have to draft their budgets in January to February.

Gannon, said he thinks the event of using the cost-share would be “rare” and if it was used, it would have to be justified by the tech center’s advisory committee.

“My intent is that the cost-sharing measure use would be rare and is really for emergency needs not covered by the allocation,” he said.

The agreement had guidelines for a tech center advisory committee, which is made up of the sending school’s superintendents, and one school board member from each school. The advisory committee acts like a school board for the technical center and will help with the budget as well as advising and maintaining funds and grants for the programs.

Augusta Public Schools, Winthrop Public Schools, Hallowell-area Regional School Unit 2, Readfield-area RSU 38, Erskine Academy, Gardiner-area Maine School Administrative District 11 and the towns within the RSU 12 Palermo region, send students to the tech center.

Each school has a weighted vote, same as the cost share and it is split among the seven schools that send their students to the tech center and each district’s allocation is based on the SAIPE (Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates) count of children between the ages of 5 to 17 in the sending municipality.

Augusta, the city with the highest count of students between 5 to 17, has the largest vote and cost-share at 20.8%. Gardiner-based MSAD 11 is the second highest percentage, at 18.4% and the lowest percentage is for the town of Somerville, part of RSU 12, at 0.8%.

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