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Board approves training site, property purchase, contract with auditing firm

The Pennsylvania College of Technology Board of Directors on Thursday approved the National Sustainable Structures Center opening a building performance training site in Westmoreland County, authorized the purchase of a property on First Street and ratified a contract for auditing services.

To satisfy COVID-19 restrictions, the virtual meeting featured remote participation from board members, college administrators and members of the news media.

With the board approval of the training site, the NSSC, part of Workforce Development at Penn College, will now deliver training and technical assistance for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program at a leased facility in Latrobe, offering the same services in western Pennsylvania that are offered in Williamsport.

NSSC is contracted by the state Department of Community and Economic Development to provide the training. It is estimated that hands-on coursework will be provided to 200 building performance professionals in the first year at the Latrobe location.

The new site is open for statewide enrollment, but will draw primarily from all counties in western Pennsylvania. Operating two sites in Pennsylvania provides participants with the flexibility to choose dates and locations that work best for their needs.

Thursday's Board of Directors meeting encapsulated for college community“It’s right near the airport (Westmoreland Airpark),” said Shannon Munro, vice president for workforce development. “It’s an ideal location for us.”

The board ratified the purchase of 938 First St. The property is across the street from the Student & Administrative Services Center and adjacent to other properties purchased previously by the college.

With the remarkable growth in Army ROTC enrollment on the Penn College campus, the building has potential for immediate use to support those operations. Army ROTC not only offers Penn College baccalaureate students the opportunity to earn a commission as an Army lieutenant, but also has a variety of scholarship programs available for eligible students.

President Davie Jane Gilmour said the property is next to green space (the former Canteen property, now owned by the college) that ROTC can use for training purposes.

“They would be very excited to have this space,” she said of the tentative plans.

The board approved the appointment of Baker Tilly to audit the college’s consolidated financial statements and supplemental information, including the schedule of federal awards, as of June 30, 2020. Baker Tilley has been the auditor of the college for the past six years, with partner rotation as required by best practices.

The board also ratified a unanimous consent action taken in February related to refinancing of two bond issues. Favorable interest rates at that time made the refunding of the bond issues a fiscally prudent transaction that would result in savings for the college.

The board unanimously approved the college moving forward with the refunding; however, in the interim, there has been significant volatility in interest rates, said Suzanne T. Stopper, senior vice president for finance/CFO, making refunding not financially viable at this time. If market conditions improve sufficiently, Stopper told the board, the college will move forward with the refunding.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Board Chairman Sen. Gene Yaw asked the participants what they thought of the virtual format.

“It’s what we do every day now,” replied Board Treasurer Joseph J. Doncsecz, a senior administrator in finance at Penn State.

The next regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting is Thursday, June 18.

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