Education leaders react to Mississippi Career-Tech Scholars Program Act

Education leaders react to Mississippi Career-Tech Scholars Program Act
House Bill 405 passes the house. Photo source WDAM

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - House Bill 405 or the "Mississippi Career-Tech Scholars Program Act" passed in the house this week and will now head to the senate.

The bill, which has support from Governor Phil Bryant, would allow Mississippi residents to enter community college tuition free to pursue career and technical programs.

Jones County Junior College President Jesse Smith and Pearl River Community College President Adam Breerwood attended a special luncheon in Jackson Tuesday sponsored by community colleges across the state.

They both agreed that this bill would be good for community colleges in Mississippi.

"We fully support it. It's a great policy," Smith said.

"This is something that I think would benefit not only our students and our local economy, but our region in general," Breerwood said.

Education is becoming more expensive, but with this bill, it would make is easier for students to continue their education after high school.

"Obviously there are curriculum challenges, but more importantly, it's financial challenges," Breerwood said. "We feel like anytime you can offer financial support to help ease those barriers, the success rate is going to be much greater."

"If the state spends less per student, we have to offset that with tuition increases," Smith said. "By the state doing this, it creates more demand. It makes it more affordable for people who normally wouldn't be able to afford that type of education."

Bryant tweeted Tuesday that Mississippi set a record in December with the "lowest unemployment rate ever recorded in our state".

Both school presidents believe this new bill can help lower it even more.

"We have industries right now that we are trying to bring into our area that are looking for good skilled labor," Breerwood said. "Programs like this will help us provide those students an opportunity to enter the work force quickly. It will build our tax base, it will build our communities, and it will help generate great revenue for the state of Mississippi."

"The state's community colleges are going to be the best chance to meet that need, and grow our state," Smith said.