Community College Subsidies Would Be Poor Use Of Prince Edward Funds

Published 1:25 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2015

At the July meeting of the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors, Chairman Howard Simpson advocated for the use of county funds to subsidize community college costs for local students. While it is a noble idea, it is fiscally irresponsible, reckless and a slap in the face to numerous stakeholders in Prince Edward County.

As Prince Edward County’s first student to earn an associate degree prior to graduating from high school, I can attest to the value of community college and the impact that it had in preparing me for the University of North Carolina. But how do you justify investing in postsecondary education while ignoring a struggling — albeit improving — public school system? Would this subsidy only be available to recent graduates or any citizen in Prince Edward County? Will students attending Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College receive a similar subsidy?

If you want to improve educational opportunities, invest in early-childhood programs. Enhance our educational infrastructure to prepare students for life after school. Use our county funds to augment the Career and Technical Education programs in local schools, strengthen after-school remediation and tutoring programs, establish and fortify summer programs, and improve the quality of life for all residents.

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There are currently no community colleges in Prince Edward County. Instead of funneling money outside of the county through these subsidies, invest in making our residents more marketable in this ever-changing global economy. Find innovative ways to create and bring jobs here to Prince Edward County. We could even invest in creating a community college extension site on Granite Falls Boulevard.

Subsidizing community college is a federal or state government initiative, not a local government responsibility. I trust that Chairman Simpson’s intentions are virtuous, but the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors should devote its time, energy and resources to investing in our county, not giving residents money to go elsewhere.

Taikein M. Cooper