MARIETTA - The Washington County Career Center is facing an unexpected expense after being told by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency it needs a stormwater pollution prevention plan.
Career center Superintendent Dennis Blatt told board members during Tuesday's regular meeting the plan was needed due to the amount of earth being moved by a heavy equipment class the center re-established earlier this year.
Officials believed they had taken necessary precautions to address potential runoff issues.
"We put up silt fences, and we thought we were in compliance," Blatt said.
However, OEPA was contacted by someone concerned about the issue and the agency notified the career center that a plan should have been established prior to the earth being moved. Blatt said an engineer will have to develop the plan, which includes a site map, sediment and erosion controls and a number of other items spelled out in a nine-page checklist from the agency.
The initial price he was quoted was more than $10,000, but Blatt said he expects the final amount to be lower.
The career center will attempt to make the best of the situation, he said, by involving adult and secondary students where possible in the implementation of the plan, such as building sediment ponds.
"We want to be responsible citizens," Blatt said. "We learned. We're going to do everything we can to make it right."
Also at Tuesday's meeting, Blatt gave board members a brief presentation on the state of the career center. He noted finances will continue to be a major issue, with the so-called fiscal cliff of federal tax hikes and spending cuts including the loss of $92 million in funding for career and technical education if an agreement on averting it is not reached in Washington, D.C.
There's uncertainty over the state's school funding system as well. Locally, the center's five-year forecast shows deficit spending each year, although its surplus would keep it in the black.
Blatt said administrators meet monthly with Treasurer Joe Crone to review budgets and look for ways to improve the center's financial situation. As an example, he pointed to Crone's announcement earlier in the meeting that a change in vendors for copying machines will allow the district to obtain newer equipment while saving about $10,000 a year.
The center is also selling fewer lunches this year than last, putting its food services program in the red, but a planned agreement for AVI Food Systems to provide service for the 2013-14 school year is expected to help address that, Blatt said.
At the same time, the center must continue to maintain and improve its facilities, Blatt said.
"We've got to have quality programs and quality equipment and so on if we want students to come here," he said.
Blatt noted the adult training arm of the center has established a variety of new classes to respond to the demands of the growing oil and natural gas industry in the region. He also praised the center's staff for putting student success first.
"We have excellent people, therefore we're doing excellent things," Blatt said.
In other business, Crone told board members that for the second year in a row, the center had received an Auditor of State award for its "clean" audit, meaning there were no findings for recovery, citations or questioned costs.
"I think that is noteworthy that the team - not only the administration but the entire organization - is doing everything they can to be fiscally responsible," Crone said.