Senate Passes Bill to Expand Job Training Opportunities and Protect Students

Harrisburg – Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) said that the Senate sent the Governor a bill to expand the availability of job training programs, protect against improper school closures and help create a better system to maintain student records, and provide schools the ability to provide more institutional aid to students.

Senate Bill 456 would allow Private Licensed Schools, such as career and technical colleges and trade schools, to open a branch campus in a neighboring county or any other location within 60 miles of the main campus.

Under current law, schools can only establish a branch campus in the same county as the primary campus. Schools that want to open a second campus in a different county must go through the costly and time-consuming process of securing another independent license for a second, out-of-county location.

The bill would also protect students against improper closures of schools. The bill would require any potential school closures to be completed with proper notice to students, accreditors and the state, while also providing for a full teach-out, transfer and education succession plan for all enrolled students.

In addition, the legislation will help create a better system to house, maintain, and locate student records from these institutions. A centralized repository of records would be created within the state Department of Education to ensure student records are maintained in the case of a school closure or transfer. Under previous law, schools that close were required to transmit records to another school with little oversight from the state.

“Career and technical colleges and trade schools provide a viable path to rewarding careers and good-paying jobs,” Mensch said. “It’s important that they be available to all students, and that our education system treats these schools as more than an afterthought. They are a critical component in creating a skilled workforce.”

Senate Bill 456 also gives schools the ability to provide direct institutional grants to students. In current practice, privately licensed career and technical schools lack the authority to provide many innovative institutional grants that could help students. As a result, they have to rely on third-party non-profit organizations to provide grants, resulting in higher administrative fees, more red tape and less financial aid available for students.

The bill has been approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and was sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

CONTACT: Mark Fetzko, mfetzko@pasen.gov, (717) 787-3110