- After two days of evidentiary hearings, the State Board of Education today voted to approve Erie County’s application to establish the Erie County Community College. The measure passed in a 9-6 vote, with House Education Committee Chairman Curt Sonney (R-Erie) voting in opposition.
Following the vote, Sonney made the following statement:
“As chairman of the House Education Committee and a member of the board, I care deeply about providing high-quality educational opportunities and options for all Pennsylvania students. However, after further review and consideration, I felt that the approval of an Erie County Community College was not in the best interest of our region and our taxpayers.
“I opposed the application to establish a community college in Erie County because the testimony during the two-day hearing showed that the county is already served by the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College (NPRC). The NPRC serves Erie and multiple surrounding counties and I believe their model is an innovative move toward future success of higher education and one that serves our county well.
“In order for a new community college to be established, the law requires that the community not be adequately served by established institutions of higher learning. The testimony of multiple witnesses revealed that NPRC will, over time, provide the same opportunities to Erie County residents as the proposed community college. In fact, many of the proposed course offerings of the community college are already offered by NPRC.
“NPRC is still in its infancy and began operating as an independent institution as of January 2020. Instead of authorizing a new community college, I believe the citizens of Erie County would have been better served by investing its resources in existing opportunities and building partnerships with existing institutions of higher education to meet our workforce demands.
“Additionally, I believe the creation of an Erie County Community College will be an unnecessary burden on our region’s hard-working taxpayers. I do not believe that taxpayers should have to put their money towards a college that would duplicate programs that are already in existence. Our higher education landscape is ever changing and is already met with funding challenges and instability. That said, I believe it would be fiscally irresponsible for us to establish another community college.
“Despite today’s vote and decision, I will continue to advocate for better educational opportunities for Erie County and beyond.”
Representative Curt Sonney
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Brooke Haskell