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August 12. 2014 10:39PM

Official says Manchester school district could get $300k from Job Corps

MANCHESTER — The school district could stand to take in an additional $600,000 a year in state adequacy funding should it win a federal contract to run the Job Corps center being built off Dunbarton Road, according to the president of the company the district is partnering with on the bid.

Brian Fox, the president and CEO of Education and Training Resources, told the Board of School Committee on Monday that the district’s staffing costs for the center would be around $300,000, for an estimated annual net revenue of $300,000 for the district.

ETR, based in Kentucky, operates Job Corps centers in Georgia, New York and Connecticut.

The district submitted the bid in conjunction with ETR and other partners to the U.S. Department of Labor six weeks ago, a move that upset Ward 9 school board member Art Beaudry. He’s argued that Mayor Ted Gatsas and top district administrators kept the board in the dark on the plan. A couple of his colleagues also expressed concerns about the bid on Monday.

Gatsas has been a strong proponent of having the district run the center, which he views as a way of leveraging the expertise it’s gained at the Manchester School of Technology to bring in more revenue.

Both institutions are geared toward students seeking careers in the trades. The Job Corps program, which began 50 years ago, is aimed more specifically at low-income students and dropouts, aged 16 to 24. “From a proposal standpoint, we feel very optimistic with the approach we’ve taken,” Fox said. “In terms of partnering the school district, we feel it’s a very innovative approach and very advanced.”

But Ward 10 board member John Avard said he didn’t want to be an “impulse voter.”

“I think it’s incumbent on me to do my proper due diligence,” Avard said. “I haven’t seen anything as far as the money ... We need to reach your company. I’d like a copy of the proposal, so we can review it and do what research we need to do.”

 

Gatsas noted that the bid was confidential, but he indicated it could be shared with the board in nonpublic session. Other board members pressed to know how many of the projected 300 students at the center would already be Manchester students, thereby cancelling out any increase state adequacy funding, which is a calculated on a per-pupil basis.

 

Gatsas said most of the students would be “non-completers” — dropouts — and therefore would represent additional money for the district. But Beaudry said such students who are under 18 and residing in the city may already be included in the state’s adequacy aid calculations.

Gatsas maintained that the additional adequacy aid could be used in the district’s general fund, not just for the Job Corps center.

“The city will have leftover adequacy money,” Fox, the ETR president, said. “The Job Corps will not be a drain.”

In total, there would be 290 staff members at the Job Corps center, where most of the 300 students would reside during their schooling. Only 18.5 full-time employees at the Job Corps center would be employed directly by the district.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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