Senator Scarnati, who introduced Senate Bill 1000 in June of last year, explained that the legislation is a bi-partisan measure which is based largely on recommendations by a Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) study completed in December 2011.
“I am very pleased to represent the 25th Senatorial District which includes eight rural counties in north western Pennsylvania,” Scarnati said. “The needs of residents in rural Pennsylvania are vastly different from suburban or urban districts, especially when it comes to post-secondary educational opportunities. Senate Bill 1000 will help set the foundation for establishing rural public community college opportunities in Pennsylvania, to help meet the educational needs of students in rural areas.”
The LBFC study which helped provide a framework for SB 1000, concluded that there is a significant need for public community college programs in rural Pennsylvania. According to the report, 25 of the 26 rural counties in Pennsylvania had no community college programs and by 2018 most jobs will require post-secondary education training.
“Providing rural communities with access to affordable higher education is critical to providing new career opportunities for students and improving the economy,” Scarnati said. “We want to help provide cost effective educational opportunities to students so that they have the necessary skills to meet the demand for new jobs.”
According to Scarnati, the Secretary of Education will designate a region for the college and also appoint a Board of Trustees to oversee the institution. The Board will be tasked with instituting a college curriculum that facilitates programs that address the future workforce needs of the region including technology training programs.
“Senate Bill 1000 received an in depth review by the Senate Education Committee at the October hearing,” Scarnati stated. “Thanks to input by education, business and community leaders we were able to ensure that the legislation will provide a solid foundation for rural regional community colleges. This initiative will help rural students and families and I’m grateful that it has received widespread bi-partisan support.”
Senate Bill 1000 will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.