May 14—SUNBURY — Leaders in the Susquehanna Valley Community Education Project (SVCEP) are asking citizens to fill out a survey to gauge interest in a community college.
In May 2021, the community education project announced a partnership with Marywood University in Scranton to provide Middle States Commission for Higher Education accreditation. The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CLQBSSH.
"The goal is to increase our taste for support of sponsorship for the counties, and to relieve the county government from feeling risk-averse when the public is supportive of a community college," said SVCEP Executive Director Lenaire Ahlum.
The first round of survey respondents resulted in 920 people between October and March. The next round will run until the survey shows a comparable number of "new and unique respondents," said Ahlum.
In the first survey, a comparison of responses to three main questions showed a two-thirds majority of respondents replied that they are probably or definitely supportive of a new community college; supportive of the county government sponsoring a new community college; and are willing to be taxed $13 to $14 annually per household to support regional main campus independent community college, according to a summary of the first report.
"There is a huge unmet need for low-cost direct-to-career education opportunities in our area," said Board President Meghan Beck. "For the community college to happen, we need to show our local commissioners how important it is via this survey, the petition on our website and by giving the commissioners a call."
The goal is to have the new community college open in Sunbury by 2023 or 2024. In March, the group signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a first short-term career prep Nursing Assistant Training and Competency Evaluation Program that will start this summer.
No counties have pledged any financial commitment yet. It would require a $1.2 million annual investment from Northumberland, Union, Montour and Snyder counties. Northumberland County residents would be asked to provide $624,000; Union County would be asked $240,000; Snyder County would be $228,000; and Montour would contribute $108,000, according to a study commissioned by the education project.