Empower Erie News & Updates

Erie County Council approves community college sponsorship

Posted on June 28th, 2017 at 6:15 AM
  

This article was originally written by Kevin Flowers and Nico Salvatori and published on GoErie.com on June 28, 2017

Barry Grossman paid close attention to the latest push for an Erie County community college.

Grossman, a Democrat who served as Erie County executive from 2010 through 2013, fought hard to establish the school during his time in county government’s top job. However, County Council rejected county sponsorship of a community college in 2010, largely because of financial concerns.

Tuesday, though, was a different story.

During a special meeting at the Erie County Courthouse, County Council voted 4-2, with one abstention, to approve county sponsorship of a community college, which makes county government responsible for millions of dollars annually in operating costs if the state approves the school.

Grossman, in an interview Tuesday, said he was “thrilled” by council’s move.

“I’ve thought for a long time that they had the votes, so I wasn’t surprised,” Grossman said. “What always got me is that a lot of people don’t realize or understand that Erie County taxpayers are already paying state taxes for the other 14 community colleges in the state. But we’re not getting any of the benefits.

“We need a community college,” Grossman said. “And I think it’s going to happen this time. There is more support.”

Council Chairman Jay Breneman and colleagues Andre Horton, Kathy Fatica and Fiore Leone voted in favor of sponsoring the community college.

“On this day, we chose hope over fear,” said Horton, who has long argued that the establishment of a new community college would be a much-needed investment in “human capital” and give many local residents who cannot afford a four-year college or trade school education a less-costly higher education option.

Council members Ed DiMattio and Carol Loll voted against sponsorship. Councilman Kyle Foust abstained from voting because he believes his employer, Mercyhurst University, would compete with the new school.

 


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