Pennsylvania Highlands Community College just opened its fifth regional location in Blair County, but it appears there are no immediate plans to expand into a sixth.
But that didn’t stop representatives from Mifflin County who attended the college’s board of trustees meeting on Tuesday from pitching their plan to establish a branch campus in the Lewistown area.
“This is all about opportunity, and we want to be a partner with you and provide educational opportunities to the people in our area,” said Richard Daubert, executive director of Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11, which serves schools in Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata and Mifflin counties.
Discussion on creating a community college in Mifflin County goes back a few years, but because of state budget cuts, funding for the project has started to diminish. Officials in Mifflin County looked to Penn Highlands in hopes of forming a relationship to determine the feasibility of opening a branch campus.
“We held a community meeting in October for conversation, and people in Mifflin County welcome this type of opportunity,” Daubert said.
Despite assurances from the Mifflin contingent that they have resources in place that will help to cover initial startup costs and are working to secure additional state and federal funding for the project, the trustees were not confident about moving forward with the plan.
“There are no guarantees, and with our current budget we can’t afford to go into those areas and absorb the losses that come with a startup campus. We can’t do it right now,” board member Jeff Wingard said.
“We aren’t ruling anything out at this time, but our main concern is building up Blair County, and that’s where our focus is,” he said.
In addition to the Blair site, the college operates facilities in Richland Township, Ebensburg, Somerset and Huntingdon.
Kelly Urban is a general assignment reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/