the Beacon Journal editorial board

The city that likes to collaborate failed to do so ó again. That is one takeaway from the surprising decision at the State Controlling Board on Monday to pull from its agenda approval of funding for Stark State College to set up a campus in Akron. The decision putting the matter on hold surprised Mayor Dan Horrigan and Para Jones, the president of Stark State. It isnít that they failed to pay attention. They werenít told, the Akron community left to look, oh, like it doesnít have its act together.

State Sen. Tom Sawyer, a member of the Controlling Board, initiated the delay. The Akron Democrat wants to see more analysis of whether Stark State landing in town poses a problem for the University of Akron. The university faces a steep enrollment challenge. Sawyer wonders about Stark State siphoning students from the university. He suggests the city already has a community college, in the form of the UA College of Applied Science and Technology.

More, the matter of the university and Stark State sharing a location has surfaced.

Actually, these are reasonable concerns and questions. They also have been examined in the months since Stark State announced its plan for coming to Akron, found a permanent location at Perkins and Union streets, near downtown, with a temporary site leased on White Pond Drive. The worries were part of the capital budget process at the Statehouse, in which lawmakers approved the plan. They have been discussed within the city, and a consensus formed among business leaders, officials at the Akron Public Schools and others in the community, seeing Stark State as adding considerable value.

Even university leaders seemed to signal support, albeit knowing UA would have to make adjustments. Have doubts deepened at the university, shedding light on reports of its lobbyists lately making the rounds of legislative offices? Its statement in the wake of the Controlling Board delay didnít exactly express support for the arrival of Stark State.

No question, the university is crucial to the quality of life in the city and the region. So is the presence of Stark State.

Many analysts explain that successful cities benefit from an accessible community college. They have in mind something like Stark State, a more affordable school focused on workforce development, plugging gaps in skills, providing a path to those interested, often older students, in gaining an associateís degree or a certificate and soon getting a related job.

That is why Stark State has been a leading player in Summit Countyís Conexus program, linking workers to manufacturers and other employers seeking to meet particular skill needs. As it is, the community college has been recognized widely for how effectively it performs. Many of its students already travel from here to Jackson Township to attend classes. That demand explains why Stark State came north. This isnít something the university could replicate quickly or easily.

Stark State complements well the larger missions at the university, research and high academic quality. All of this should be reinforced when college and university officials meet with state lawmakers in time for the next Controlling Board meeting on Oct. 17 ó where all should be on board with approving the funding so the building can begin.