Swearing in Day

Members of the House of Representatives were sworn in for the 2017-2018 session Tuesday. Representatives from Lancaster County pictured here, from right are David Hickernell, from West Donegal, Mindy Fee, from Manheim, Brett Miller, East Hempfield, Dave Zimmerman, East Earl, Keith Greiner, Upper Leacock.

The Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, and similar facilities statewide, would receive a welcome boost under a bipartisan package of bills passed by the state House education committee last week.

Nine bills crafted as a result of information gathered in 2015 and 2016 by a House subcommittee focused on career and technical education are now poised to advance through the chamber.

“There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to education issues,” state Rep. David Hickernell, of West Donegal Township, said in a statement. “While a four-year degree may work for some people, many others find great-paying and fulfilling careers after attending a trade school or some other form of technical training.”

As chairman of the House education committee, Hickernell in 2015 helped form the Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness. The subcommittee traveled the state and gathered data and testimony on career and technical education.

Its efforts yielded a bipartisan package of bills that would increase access to career and technical programs, address business and industry workforce shortages and incentivize businesses that support career and technical education programs.

Martin Hudacs, a retired Solanco School District superintendent serving as a consultant to the Lancaster school’s administration as it searches for a new executive director, said bipartisan support from lawmakers is “really good news.”

“Every one of these bills addresses a need that I have seen even in my short time at LCCTC,” Hudacs said in an email.

Among the nine bills, two — House bills 2155 and 2159 — would have the greatest immediate impact for the Lancaster facility, which, despite boosting enrollment in recent years, has fallen behind similar facilities in surrounding counties in the percentage of high school students it serves.

House Bill 2155 would reduce the number of credits career and technology teachers must take after being hired from 78 credits to 60 credits, which may make the job more appealing and reduce the number of qualified teaching candidates lost in Pennsylvania each year.

House Bill 2159 would take the pain out of transferring from one career and technology institution to another by requiring all public high schools, colleges and intermediate units to submit articulation agreements to the Pennsylvania Department of Education to be stored in a public, online database.