Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges are calling on lawmakers to hike their funding for the first time in years.
Students, teachers, and trustees packed the state Capitol rotunda in Harrisburg to ask for a break from the state’s years-long streak of mostly flat-funding its two-year schools.
Frank Kordalski, who runs Westmoreland County Community College’s programs to train students for careers in manufacturing and the oil and gas field, said he’d like to see his department grow to meet demand from businesses.
“We’re working with the industry, we’re making prototypes for them right now,” he said. “They’re coming to us, asking us for help, and we just need to do more.”
Kordalski notes his department doesn’t run the risk of shutting down programs or turning students away.
But the president of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges warns that if the state budget doesn’t include a larger chunk of funding for his members, some schools may have to eliminate departments or hike tuition.
The commission is asking for an additional $14 million in the upcoming budget — a roughly 5 percent funding increase.