City Councilmembers share their thoughts on an Erie community college

Local News

Local Non-Profit Empower Erie and their work to create a community college in Erie County has been halted due to the topic being tabled at the latest City Council discussion at the meeting on Wednesday. Samiar Nefzi joins us from the newsroom with reactions from the councilmembers.

There has been a lot of support behind the efforts to create a community college here in the Erie area. However, Council President James Winarski saying they could come back “at a later date” to discuss the idea.

Many community members showing up to the City Council meetings Wednesday night. 

Erie Mayor Joe Schember speaking in support of a community college. “I believe we need a community college. A regular college/university isn’t right for everyone.”

However, the City Council tabling the resolution for the time being; something Mayor Schember says he doesn’t understand.

Councilwoman Kathy Schaff saying a possibility is because they have discussed the opportunity of a community college before. “It’s reiterating itself. I think we’re still on board with everything.”

Erie City Councilman Mel Witherspoon saying everything ultimately boils down to where financing for the community college would come from.

Witherspoon says the “majority of us are for this; it is a good program. We have to realize where… the money is coming from. Who is going to pay for it in the long run; 5, 10 years from now?”

He also says if he had to vote today on the community college, it would be a ‘maybe,’ adding no matter what, if the school is added, it must be towards what current industries are looking for.

“We are not a manufacturing community any longer. The jobs that are coming up are more technical.”

Mayor Joe Schember says most of the money wouldn’t come from Erie residents. “The plan is that it would come from the state, actually.  Obviously, that is taxpayer money from across the state. It is not just Erie taxpayer money.”

Witherspoon says since the discussion was only tabled, we could see a community college discussion back on the agenda as early as next week.

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