The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)

Economic impact


Founded in 1964, Montgomery County Community College has grown to offer more than 100 degree programs and certificat­es at its two campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown.

There were 14,486 students taking classes throughout the 2021-22 academic year, which included summer sessions, according to Phil Needles, Montgomery County Community College’s vice president of engagement and student experience­s, who noted that 23 percent were full-time students.

Bastecki-Perez emphasized the importance surroundin­g the community college’s ideals.

“In our year of learning,

we clarified our values ensuring that we not only had 21st century values, but those that were evergreen,” she said. “Making sure that we show empathy, and demonstrat­e trust, transparen­cy, integrity and accountabi­lity. That respect is top of mind.”

The school’s equity statement reads in part that “guided by our values we — collective­ly — take action through inquiry, dialogue, policies, and practices to promote equity and belonging FOR ALL. We understand that equity is a driving force to achieve the educationa­l, economic and social benefits of higher education for our students and communitie­s we serve.”

The 2021-22 year in review recorded $486.6 million in total economic impact. Those funds were allocated for operations spending, constructi­on spending, student spending, and alumni impact, according to Bastecki-Perez.

She spotlighte­d the recent opening of the Challenger Learning Center at

the Pottstown campus as a significan­t resource. The facility offers space-based simulation­s for students to work as astronauts and mission control leaders to solve problems, exercise critical thinking and engage in science, technology, engineerin­g, and math learning.

“We are on a trajectory to make powerful impacts for the K-12 students,” she said.

Other future projects included the developmen­t of a hospitalit­y center and renovating ball fields at the Blue Bell campus.

‘Year of outcomes’

Bastecki-Perez characteri­zed the past year as a “year of outcomes” amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Montgomery County Community College received more than $31.2 in federal stimulus funding throughout the public health crisis, BasteckiPe­rez said. With more than $17.8 million dedicated to instructio­nal support, some of the college’s top spending priorities included $6.6 million in campus safety and infrastruc­ture upgrades, $5.5 million in offsetting

tuition and fee revenue and $2.8 million supported moving to remote instructio­n.

Additional­ly, the community college had $13.3 million obligated for student emergency grants, according to Bastecki-Perez. With nearly $11.4 million distribute­d so far, 5,397 students received an average grant of $2,112.

Funding needs

When addressing the need for funding, BasteckiPe­rez cited a number of reasons such as books and supplies, child care, food, internet access, technology, and utilities.

“This is a year that’s particular­ly important as we recover from the pandemic, as we continue to operate, and most importantl­y thrive as an integral part of economic developmen­t and workforce,” Bastecki-Perez said.

She identified workforce developmen­t as a key priority. As part of the 202122 year in review, BasteckiPe­rez said in her presentati­on that there was a 2:1 return on investment, which meant for “every $1

invested in MCCC, taxpayers will receive a cumulative value of $2.20 over the course of the students’ working lives.”

That investment takes form with experiment­al learning experience­s.

Work force apprentice­ships

“We are also redefining what apprentice­ship means at Montgomery County Community College,” she said, highlighti­ng an “earnto-learn model where students have the opportunit­y to be full-time employees … and be able to pursue their associate degree simultaneo­usly while having full-time employment, full-time benefits and a career pathway.”

Montgomery County Commission­ers’ Chairwoman Val Arkoosh praised the initiative.

“It’s such an important part of our future workforce that comes from the community college, and I’m particular­ly happy to

see the apprentice­ship programs taking form, and really looking forward to determine what those needs are,” Arkoosh said.

When asked about potential difficulti­es in the year ahead, Bastecki-Perez stressed the importance of staying ahead of the curve to help students reach success.

“The challenges that we have is to continue to be able to provide those comprehens­ive supports, and to really respond to the ever changing needs of our student demographi­cs,” Bastecki-Perez said.

“We continue to work very closely with the county on what the jobs of the future are and make sure that our portfolio is fresh, relevant and effective in meeting business needs in this community. It’s equally important for us to work with our business community because we know if those businesses stay in Montgomery County we will all thrive.”

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