Community college proposed for rural Northwest Pa.

    A report requested by the Legislature has found that residents in Pennsylvania’s rural areas have little access to community colleges.

    A top Republican in the Senate is trying to do something about it.

    The dearth of community colleges in rural Pennsylvania has a few possible consequences, according to experts.

    For instance, less access to job training results in an undertrained workforce or an outward migration of young people. To address that, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County wants to create a community college to serve a rural, roughly 11-county region in the northwest corner of the state.

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    Some have suggested that the new school might hurt efforts to better align the state’s existing 14 community colleges.

    Scarnati said he doesn’t care.

    “If I wait for that, I’ll wait for another 13 years to get this,” he said. “So it’s my goal to get something in place in the rural area before … we lose more kids and more students.”

    The proposal is in its early stages and there is no budget estimate for planning, let alone construction.

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