Community college advocates visit school districts

Local News

ERIE, Pa. — Empower Erie representatives visited Millcreek Township School District’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday.

The presentation explained how students could take advantage of community college with dual enrollment, cost savings and associate degrees.

“We want them to know, because they care deeply about education,” said Ron DiNicola, chairperson and co-founder of Empower Erie. “We want them to know what the community college plan is all about.”

Erie County residents pay taxes toward Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges, but Erie is the state’s largest population center without one.

DiNicola said it is important to remind the public that the college would benefit all of Erie County.

“It’s important for us to continue to get the message out around the county that this is an effort that is countywide in order to create more educational opportunities for our kids throughout the county,” he said.

The district did not formally respond or take a stance, but administrators said they would review the plans.

“It’s good to at least investigate it and see if it is something that we want moving forward. So, I’d be in favor of anything that helps provide more education for our youth,” said the district’s superintendent William Hall, who invited DiNicola to speak.

Empower Erie is visiting other districts and received the support of Erie’s Public Schools in April.

“We’ve had a lot of outreach. A lot of them have contacted us. We feel good about the level of support we have around the county,” said DiNicola.

Several institutions awarded a total of $300,000 to Empower Erie for a state-mandated feasibility study. If the college is proven feasible and approved by state government, the Susan Hirt Hagen Fund and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) would gift Empower Erie $3.7 million.

DiNicola said results from the study could be released later in the week.

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