Several consortiums of planning, educational, and civic groups have initiated “Certificate Programs” to enhance the education of local planning and zoning officials. Each group sponsors three PMPEI courses annually (Planning, Zoning, Subdivision/Land Development Review). An attendee who completes the three courses in a two-year period is eligible for a special Certificate for their achievement.
Currently there are three certificate programs:
- Berks County: Berks County Planning Commission and Albright College Center for Excellence in Local Government
- Chester County: Chester County Planning Commission, West Chester University, and Chester County 2020
- Lycoming County: Lycoming County Planning Commission
Over the years these certificate programs have been available, they have certificated hundreds of “master planners” who have become the leaders of local planning in their communities. Usually there is some special event or award ceremony by the sponsoring group to acknowledge the achievement of these individuals.
Setting up a certificate program is not difficult. The first step is to enlist the partners who will sponsor the program. Usually they will have a common civic or educational mission. Potential partners might be local and county planning commissions, boards of elected officials, schools and colleges, PA-APA Sections, consultants, and businesses.
Second is the commitment to sponsor three courses a year and share the initial financial responsibility. Registration fees can be set at a level to make the program self-sustaining. Aside from the usual logistics of a sponsored PMPEI course, the consortium must have a record-keeping system to keep track of individuals who have completed courses to determine if they are eligible for a certificate. In planning a certificate program the sponsors should consider how they will recognize those who have made the educational commitment and earned a certificate.
PMPEI can provide assistance is setting up a Certificate Program.