Pa. Budget & Policy Center to release report outlining potential ‘disastrous impact’ of state school consolidations

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s no secret there are concerns about the PA State System of Higher Education consolidating schools. Now, the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center says a new report shows doing so can have a disastrous economic impact.

The center and experts will break down the results of the report at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday during a Zoom conference.

The report says cuts would devastate the local economies and workforces in the areas of the 14 public universities across the state.

It says state schools provide a “major anchor of high-quality unionized and professional employment in a range of occupations,” and that current plans for cuts amount to 14% of the system’s overall employment.

This is reportedly equivalent to the largest private-sector plant closings and mass layoffs of the previous decade PA.

The largest impact is expected to be on women, since women are the majority of the untenured faculty.

Still, the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, otherwise known as PASSHE, recently told lawmakers these schools are struggling big time, and if the plan to reorganize doesn’t work, it may be time to get rid of the system as a whole.

Declining enrollment and increasing costs have been problems for years.

The hope is that streamlining costs will give these schools, students and faculty hope.

PASSHE officials want to merge California, Clarion and Edinboro universities, as well as Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield by the fall of next year.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties recently surveyed nearly 1,000 employees. Only 8% say they were supportive of the mergers.

Despite all the issues, PASSHE’s board unanimously supported freezing tuition for the third consecutive year.

The board is set to vote on the plan in the coming months.

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