Push for 15th community college in Pa. irritates leaders at other schools

    State proposals to create a new community college in northwestern Pennsylvania are prompting concerns about funding and fairness at the other community colleges.

    While the new college would be funded with state aid and tuition, the commonwealth’s current 14 community colleges have to secure local funding, either from school districts or their county.

    It sets up an unfair system, said Karen Stout, president of the Montgomery County Community College.

    “And I do think the unintended consequences of moving forward with a different funding model could definitely threaten local sponsorship across the commonwealth to the existing 14 community colleges,” she said.

    Proposals in the state House and Senate would create a community college for an 11-county region in northwestern Pennsylvania.

    A House bill to create a community college pilot program for the northwest will have a committee hearing in late February.

    While a 2011 legislative study found the region to be underserved in education and job training opportunities, Stout said it would be best to try to meet those needs within the existing system of community colleges.

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