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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Education Council Funding Still In Limbo

Backers of the Potter County Education Council have issued a renewed plea for continued financial support in the state’s proposed 2009-10 operating budget. Gov. Ed Rendell’s budget proposal calls for elimination of state funding for community education councils (CEC). Supporters are calling on members of the Pa. General Assembly to restore the funding during this month’s budget deliberations.

Helene Nawrocki, executive director of the Potter County Education Council, said several Senators and Representatives recognize the councils’ value and favor continued state funding. However, she said, they may not be in the majority as Pennsylvania wrestles with a deficit of more than $3 billion and many competing priorities and interests in 2009-10 budget negotiations.

“It remains to be seen whether (our supporters) will carry the day when the final budget decisions are being made,” Nawrocki said.

CEC directors pointed out that Gov. Ed Rendell and Education Secretary Dr. Gerald Zahorchak have recognized the need for training Pennsylvanians so they can better compete in the high-skills economy, but many live in places without access to a community college or other institution.

“There’s a disconnect,” Nawrocki said. “The Governor zeroes-out the only entities providing post-secondary services and the Secretary testifies that the CECs are no longer needed. In essence, they are telling rural Pennsylvanians that we’re not worthy of educational opportunities . . . the question that remains is whether in this difficult economic environment our legislators are able to restore some or all of the nearly $2.2 million that funds the nine CECs.”

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