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Article: (TR) Support Sought for New Fayette County Career Center
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Article: (TR) Support Sought for New Fayette County Career Center
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Fay-Penn president says 'stigma' attached to current site of vocational-technical building (which relies on property tax monies from 4 local school districts) is reason enough to abandon the entire location of the school and envelope it into the new "career" center planned for land adjacent to the Fayette Eberly Campus of Penn State University. 

 Support sought for new Fayette County career center
By Judy Kroeger, DAILY COURIER
Saturday, December 19, 2009
 
Fay-Penn Economic Development Council urges all members and residents of Fayette County to support construction of a new career and technical center.
 
Ron Sheba, in charge of educational matters for Fay-Penn, said at Friday's quarterly meeting that not enough individuals were available for high priority occupations. Students from Uniontown, Laurel Highlands, Brownsville and Albert Gallatin school districts attend the Fayette County Vo-Tech school.
 
"The return on the investment is outstanding," Sheba said, but the area needs a new facility to attract the best students and increase the pool of skilled workers. "Businesses are unable to put on a second shift. There is no skill level."
 
Sheba said a new facility, built as a green building, would provide an opportunity to teach high school students daily. "A new building would reflect the needs of the future. We need to build this new building with a lot of flexibility for the future."
 
Fay-Penn President and CEO Michael Krajovic said Fayette County's unemployment rate is 10.6 percent, compared with a statewide rate of 8.6 percent. Fay-Penn has created 2,000 employment opportunities that remain unfilled, and an enhanced facility would help Fay-Penn's mission.
 
"What's the point when employers can't find skilled people?" Krajovic asked.
 
The current vo-tech facility is 50 years old and a replacement would cost about $23 million, as opposed to $18 million for a renovation to bring the building to current code and equipment standards.
 
"We need to attract a lot more talented students," Sheba said.
 
"It's a time for action," Krajovic said. "It needs to be a signature building. The cost will be recovered many, many times over. That location has a stigma," he said of the Georges Township facility, which he said does not attract the "best and brightest" students. He suggested the current facility — once replaced with a new one near Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus — could be used as a business incubator for graduates.
 
The four school districts have not taken action on a new facility, but Ed Jeffreys, executive director of the vo-tech, said they were close to a decision and had approved $1.6 million in new equipment.
 
"I'm still not getting the students. There's a general idea and philosophy that people who go there never get a good job," Jeffreys said. "Actually, students graduate and are making $40,000 a year, and some are attending Penn State and having all their tuition paid by their employers."
 
"This is the economic development issue," Krajovic said
 

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