New Castle News

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July 15, 2014

Erie Business Center to close in December

NEW CASTLE — The Erie Business Center will close its Erie and New Castle campuses at the end of the year.

Michelle Blount, director of the Erie campus, said local students were informed of the decision at lunchtime Monday.

“They were shocked,” Blount said. “But we are working with them to complete their programs and to reach their educational goals.”

Classes will continue through Dec. 31.

There are 78 students enrolled in the New Castle campus, which is at the Cascade Galleria, and 164 students at the Erie campus. The center employs 48 staffers in Erie and 17 in New Castle.

“The board of directors made the decision due to the high student default rate, the low student enrollment, the increased competition and the increased government regulations governing such institutions of post-secondary schools,” Blount said.

Discussions are underway with Fortis Institute in Erie and Laurel Technical Institute in Sharon to assist existing students to complete their education, she explained. Many current students are scheduled to graduate in August or December, she added.

“The institutions in Sharon and Erie have the same accrediting agency, so transfers will be easier,” Blount pointed out.

“We will be working with our students through the fall and to the end of the year to complete their programs or to transfer.”

In a prepared statement issued Monday, Blount noted the 130-year-old institution will be unable to disburse federal student aid after the fall 2014 semester because of the defaults on student loan obligations, declining enrollment and growing government regulations.

“The board of directors determined it would be impossible for our 130-year-old institution to remain open past this December.”

Erie Business Center was founded in 1884 as Clark’s Business College.

The school has graduated thousands of students heading to business careers and later to the computer, health care, hospitality, and legal fields.

“We have students working in good jobs throughout our region, which reflects well on the quality of our educational programs and of our faculty and students,” Blount said.

As recently as May, the school’s practical nursing program was ranked second in the state for best practices within a student success in education category by the Pennsylvania Association of Practical Nursing Administrators, Blount said.

Blount noted the decision to cease academic operations is no reflection on the quality of education offered.

Erie Business Center “is and always has been in good standing with the Pennsylvania Board of Private Licensed Schools and with our accrediting agency.”

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