(HARRISBURG) – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) issued the following statement today regarding the Pennsylvania State Board of Education’s decision on Erie’s Community College application.
“I applaud the decision today by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education to require that a hearing by the full Board be held on Empower Erie’s proposal to have a community college. While the vote today was positive, the upcoming hearing must be a full examination of all pertinent information, rather than simply relying on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) jaded and one-sided findings.
“Make no mistake that much of what transpired today at the Board hearing should be troubling to anyone who claims to support transparency. For example, during the meeting the paid lobbyist for the proposed Erie community college was in constant whispering communication with Board staff and several select Board members. This communication alone taints the whole process.
“Erie County’s application is unsustainable and built on financial assumptions that are pixie dust. Clearly if there was a majority of Board support then an approval of the application would have been rammed through today. Regardless of fanciful spin, a majority of members of the State Board will not endorse the Erie community college proposal.
“I care greatly about providing diverse educational options to students across the Commonwealth. I also feel strongly that approval of the pending Erie application would be an act to duplicate educational services. If the proposed Erie County community college were approved, Erie County taxpayers would be responsible for providing millions of dollars. Taxpayers should not have to put their money towards a college that would duplicate programs that are already in existence. It is immensely unfortunate that prospective students in Erie are being sold a bill of goods about this proposal.
“I strongly encourage the proponents of this application to restart meaningful conversations with Northern Pennsylvania Regional College officials in order to reach a compromise that both sides can publicly defend and that allows a positive pathway forward. This matter needs to come to a final conclusion that is in the best interest of providing educational opportunities and creating a stronger workforce in Erie and the northern region of Pennsylvania.”
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