Schools ready spending proposals: Career center budget up 0.71 percent
MIDDLEBURY — Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center officials are proposing an essentially level-service 2016-2017 budget of $3,521,263, representing a 0.71-percent increase in spending compared to this year.
The budget reflects a 1.75-percent increase in the tuition rate assessed to the three Addison County supervisory unions that send students to the career center for vocational and technical education. This means the tuition rate would grow by $210, to a total of $20,454, for each full-time equivalent student who attends the center next year.
Hannaford Director Lynn Coale noted the proposed increase in next year’s tuition rate is substantially less than the 14.7-percent hike that was approved by voters for the current year. That increase, he noted, was affected by declining enrollment — a trend that is expected to continue — and by the fact that the tuition rate the previous year (2014-2015) had been softened by $70,000 in surplus money.
The career center is funded based on a six-semester average of full-time equivalent students. The past six semesters have yielded an average enrollment of only around 124 students at the center, which serves the 17 Addison County communities that feed Mount Abraham, Middlebury and Vergennes union high schools. The Hannaford Career Center is building its 2016-2017 budget based on an enrollment projection of 134 full-time equivalent (FTE) students, according to Coale.
“Our enrollments have been going down,” Coale said, adding the phenomenon is related to the steady decline in students being seen at MUHS, Mount Abraham and VUHS. “What’s really interesting is that we have these huge declines between the fall and spring semesters. We had almost 160 FTE students in the fall, but we are going to be lucky to hit 125 this spring.”
MORE ADULT STUDENTS
While the career center’s high school population is on the decline, it has been seeing increased demand for its adult technical education programs. They include small engine repair, introduction to residential construction, welding and gardening, to name a few. PHCC is proposing in its 2016-2017 budget to use $40,000 in revenues from the adult education programs to offset some of the tuition costs.
“That’s significant,” Coale said.
Coale is anticipating the state of Vermont will level fund its support grant for technical education next year.
“We’ve been told it’s going to go up, but I think a lot of stuff can change in the Legislature — especially this year,” he said, alluding to the financial pressures facing the state budget. A serendipitous increase in the technical support grant would reduce the PHCC’s spending increase below the currently projected 0.71 percent.
Coale said the 2016-2017 budget will financially benefit from the recent retirement of some senior career center staff members.
“We had three folks who retired that we were able to replace with less expensive folks,” Coale said.
Next year’s budget does not reflect any new programs or new positions, according to Coale. In fact, the spending plan reflects the reduction of a full-time business management position to 70 percent.
Vermont Technical Center on Jan. 4 took over the space formerly occupied by Vermont Interactive Television, a service the Legislature elected to stop funding last year. So VTC will be using the space to offer more remote classes and therefore provide more opportunities for area students to earn college credit. The space is located inside the Hannaford Career Center building on Charles Avenue in Middlebury.
“That’s going to allow students in Addison County to do nurse’s aide training, LPN training and RN training,” Coale said.
The RN training course started last week, and the LPN course will begin next fall. Two additional training labs will be built in the Hannaford Career Center to support those two programs, according to Coale.
“We can basically now offer pretty much anything VTC has to offer,” Coale said.
Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center directors, Coale said, want the center to make a bigger community impact with its equipment and facilities. To that end, the center has budgeted $13,000 next year to do more to open center facilities up beyond the 177 academic days each year. That could include a makers space during evening hours, according to Coale.
“We have a lot of equipment we’d like to use more with the community,” Coale said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].