Bucks administrators and students participate in Pennsylvania Commission for Community College’s annual Lobby Day in Harrisburg
Bucks County Community College was one of 14 schools to advocate for more funding
At the Pennsylvania Commission for Community College’s annual Lobby Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, students, trustees, presidents and staff from Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges, including president Stephanie Shanblatt and students of Bucks County Community College, joined together to advocate for an increased funding level in the 2019–2020 fiscal year budget.
The budget proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf does not provide an operating or capital funding increase for the colleges, despite being the largest provider of public postsecondary education in the Commonwealth and a sector that plays a significant role in the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development systems.
Pennsylvania community colleges offer high-quality education and workforce programs aligned with areas of critical workforce needs across the Commonwealth. The 14 colleges regularly consult with business partners to develop programs to meet state and local workforce needs, while fueling Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. The colleges also educate the Commonwealth’s firefighters, healthcare workers, welders and truck drivers, as well as offer much-needed training in other in-demand fields.
In the 2017–2018 academic year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges enrolled more than 300,000 students from all 67 counties in the state. They also provided a foundation for nearly 35,000 students who sought transfer to four-year institutions, saving these students up to $20,000 on the cost of higher education.
In his budget address, Gov. Wolf indicated that Pennsylvania needs to address the skills gap to ensure that Pennsylvania has a well-trained workforce. He established a goal of 60 percent of Pennsylvania residents have some form of postsecondary education by 2025. Community college advocates from across the state encouraged him and policymakers to leverage the experience and expertise of community colleges to meet these goals.
In addition to the rally, students spent the day visiting with local legislators to advocate on behalf of the colleges’ budget request. The colleges also set up interactive displays highlighting the varied, cutting-edge programs their students are studying, including nursing, manufacturing and STEM.
“Pennsylvania community colleges are ready to assist individuals who want to improve their lives by earning a certificate, enrolling in technical training, attaining an associate degree or preparing for further education,” said Elizabeth Bolden, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “The colleges are committed to increasing access to quality, affordable higher education in the Commonwealth. We hope the General Assembly will support us in this mission by increasing funding for community colleges.”
For more information, visit pacommunitycolleges.org