South Hills, CPI give updates on the state of vocational schools

Todd Taylor, vice president of postsecondary education at CPI, speaks during a State of Education Luncheon at the Ramada Inn on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015.
Todd Taylor, vice president of postsecondary education at CPI, speaks during a State of Education Luncheon at the Ramada Inn on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. CDT photo

The state is 114 days into the budget impasse, but Centre County vocational school representatives said it has minimally influenced how they operate.

In fact it hasn’t affected South Hills School of Business and Technology.

Community Outreach Director Jeff Stachowski said South Hills is a private postsecondary school, so it gets no funding from the state.

However if the lack of state budget affects grants, it could affect South Hills students who rely on them to help with tuition or program expenses.

Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, on the other hand, is an alternative public high school and postsecondary school owned by Bald Eagle, Bellefonte and Penns Valley area school districts.

Vice President of Postsecondary Education Todd Taylor said if the state’s decisions affect its owner districts, then they usually affectCPI.

But Taylor said there hasn’t been a difference in district funding.

“We just haven’t received our (vocational) education reimbursements” Taylor said.

He expects that would be distributed to CPI after the budget is passed.

“We’re always in talks with the schools, looking at tax revenue and working together to keep things running smoothly,” Taylor said. “There’s a problem at the state level, but we’re doing a good job collaboratively not to let that have a negative effect on us.”

Stachowski and Taylor addressed Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County members and public residents at a conference Thursday afternoon at the Ramada Inn about the outlook of vocational schools — both which have seen growth.

One of South Hills’ biggest assets is its partnership with Penn State that often provides graduates with entry-level positions, Stachowski said.

“We have partners because they make us a better institution,” Stachowski said.

Students are also required to complete internships with local businesses that sometimes lead to full-time jobs.

“If we aren’t putting people to work then we aren’t doing our job,” Stachowski said.

To assure job placement after students graduate from CPI, they partnered with Case Corp. last year.

The school is one of four Case training centers in North America.

“They pretty much told us if we partnered with them and train our students on their equipment and services, then they’ll hire them out of school with respectable careers,” Taylor said. “Our biggest asset is our partnerships, and to push people to where the jobs are and think of the multiple pathways to career success.”

By this winter, Taylor said he expects the school to start advertising its associate degree programs so students can enroll in the summer.

CPI was accredited by the state to be a degree-granting institution and will offer three programs in health sciences, emerging energy and infrastructure, and transportation.

The school is also nearing the second phase of a three-phase strategic plan to expand.

In 2013, the school introduced its $10 million transportation training center.

The vision for phase two is to build a health sciences building near I-99 near its main facility on Harrison Road in Spring Township.

Taylor said school representatives are hoping to reach out to contractors by the end of the year.

Phase three, Taylor said, is proposed to be introduced in about seven years to add programs like hospitality and landscape.