Onward and outward: CCAC wisely looks to expand North campus

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Community College of Allegheny County is looking to the future by exploring options for a new, larger home in the growing North Hills.

Trustees last week approved the second phase of a feasibility study that will include an analysis of enrollment projections, workforce demand for community-college-level programs and potential building sites.

CCAC's North campus started in 1972 and has grown about as much as its current, 150,000-square-foot facility in McCandless can handle. With 5,600 students taking courses for college credit, parking is particularly challenging. In addition to programs it offers, CCAC has a partnership with three other community colleges -- Beaver, Butler and Westmoreland -- which allows students to pay $150 per credit, or $2,250 for 12 credits in specialized programs. That is less than the out-of-county tuition costs and vastly increases the options for students.

Even so, spokesman David Hoovler said there is potential for career and workforce development programs at the North campus, but there is no room right now.

The question of whether to expand seems all but answered.

As to the question of where, one potential site has been identified in Marshall, near to the junction of Interstate 79 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. With its vote last week, the board authorized Oxford Development Corp. to use $85,000 to study that location more fully as well as identify other possibilities.

As long as CCAC steps forward with a cautious eye on its finances, this move looks like a wise undertaking.

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