TRUMBULL COUNTY Districts to vote on career center contract

The current pact, approved in 1997, runs out next year.
LORDSTOWN -- Representatives from the districts comprising the Gordon D. James Career Center plan to meet in September to discuss a new contract.
The pact for the consortium of Lordstown, Howland, Weathersfield, Niles and McDonald expires in 2002. The pact that created the consortium ran for 20 years and expired in 1997. The member districts then approved a five-year agreement.
Talks for a new agreement have been under way for the past several months, and the center's advisory council, made up of superintendents, treasurers and board members of the districts, met Thursday.
An attorney is developing a new contract to be sent to the member districts who will review it. All of the districts except Niles have passed nonbinding agreements to continue the pact.
Gordon D. James, a retired Lordstown superintendent who attended Thursday's gathering, said Trumbull County's vocational educational program was dissolved in 1974 when voters rejected a bond issue. James was Lordstown superintendent when the center started.
Lordstown approached 10 districts about forming a compact to provide the vocational education programs required under state law. The five districts that make up the compact agreed and Lordstown built the building using its own money and state matching funds.
The facility was up and running in 1977 and students in their junior year attended the school full time, James said. Tuition was paid by the member district to maintain the building and buy equipment, he said.
Most of the programs offered at the facility now are for part of the school day. Lordstown is the fiscal agent and runs the center for the member districts.
Exploring alternatives: Niles board members passed a resolution in December to explore an affiliation with the Trumbull Career and Technical Center, which was formerly called the joint vocational school. Niles Superintendent Patrick Guliano plans to make a recommendation to the school board, but he hasn't indicated when he'll make it.
Participating districts pay tuition to Lordstown based on the number of students attending. Districts don't pay tuition to send students to TCTC, but residents in member school districts are assessed an unvoted property tax of at least 2 mills.
Because Niles sends the most students to Gordon James, thereby paying the highest tuition, if Niles pulls out, the other districts would have to make up the difference to keep the facility operating.
Ray Getz, Lordstown superintendent, said a plan is in the works involving GM Lordstown using the James facility for retraining its workers.
Retraining is part of the plan the local facility will send to company leadership in Detroit to try to persuade the company to renovate its Lordstown plant.
"I really can't tell you the details," Getz said. "It's a work-in-progress."
Tom Will, director of engineering at GM's Lordstown assembly plant, said the company does retraining in areas like health and safety and technical skills.