Empower Erie hosted a meeting with community members today to discuss the organizations support for a stand-a-lone community college in Erie County.
“They’re on the front line of dealing with a lot of issues that are co-mingled with what a community college could help us accomplish,” said Ron DiNicola, Co-Founder, Empower Erie.
According to Ron DiNicola, around 60% of students in a four year college started out in a community college. He says we can’t say that about Erie County until there is one.
DiNicola added that taxpayers are missing out on a community college they are already paying for across the Commonwealth.
“Sometimes I look at it not so much as a matter of policy, but as a matter of mathematics. We’re just on the wrong end of this deal. We’re going to end up paying anyway. We might as well be getting a part of that $300 million that is being spent on community colleges,” said DiNicola.
About a dozen community leaders made their way tot he meeting today, like Laura Eaton who attended to learn more about the potential college.
“I really want the community college, because it also affects our community that we represent. I have grandchildren that this would benefit and so many people in the area that would not be able to go to college will now be able to go to college,” said Laura Eaton, Executive Director, MECA Inc.
All of the members in attendance are not sure exactly where they stand, if they are for a community college or not.
Linda Moore says she is neutral on having a community college at this point.
“Like Erie, Rochester has many fine universities and colleges. It also has Monroe Community College, which played a very important role in the lives of a lot of my friends when I was growing up,” said Linda Moore, Executive Director, The Sight Center of NWPA.
Empower Erie is scheduled to meet with the state Board of Education on March 18th for a hearing.
Empower Erie has backing from Governor Tom Wolf, the Department of Education and some elected officials statewide.