Tuesday, June 4, 2013

From:  Keith Yarger
To:  Southern Tioga School Board
Date:  May 29, 2013
RE:  Superintendent Recommendation for School Consolidation

Dear Board,

In light of the funding shortfall and that PDE is now recommending something to the Governor that could ultimately eliminate our reimbursement for capital projects, I would like to formally make my recommendation to you for consolidation.  I would like you to take action on this at tonight’s meeting or on June 3rd.

One goal that the school board made just a few months ago and all agreed to, was to have a school in each community as long as feasibly possible.  I really believe in this goal as well.  By giving back the majority of the borrowed money, I believe that we can still reach this goal. 

My recommendation is to remain status quo for the 2013/14 school year.  During that time, the furloughed professional employees would have the furloughs revoked and the district would run on the same schedules as it did for the 2012/13 school year, with the exception of the added vocational classes.  During this time though, the district should hold another 780 school closure hearing for the North Penn High School.  I would recommend that the school district hold this hearing in the fall so the school can be officially closed before the Winter Holiday to allow for ample preparation on the transition.  This would also allow the administration to concentrate on a direct plan and focus more on academics.  The extra cost for transportation to have the NPHS students attend both Liberty High School and Mansfield High School would be in the range of $218,000, with reimbursement each year after that taking the cost down to $74,120, APPROXIMATELY.

By closing North Penn in the fall, the board will then be able to give out furloughs for the building closure next year to meet all of the laws required for furloughing professional staff.  During the course of the 2013/14 school year, I would recommend the district use some of the bond money, to put a new roof on Blossburg Elementary (which Shane Nickerson said would cost approximately $250,000), put a new floor in the school (which we received a price of approximately $27,000), Secure the school with a secure entrance at the office and playground area, eliminate the two story structure of the high school during the summer of 2014, and make the kitchen of the elementary one that can prepare food for the elementary students before the 2014/15 school year begins. 



Also, during the course of the 2013/14 school year, I would recommend doing the $2.1 million in repairs or less at the Liberty schools.  The total of the repairs to the Blossburg Elementary School, the Liberty Elementary School, and the Liberty High School would be in the range of $2.4 - $2.6 million.  I would then recommend using some of the money to fix the mortar problems at Mansfield High School as well as some asphalt repairs at each of the buildings, bringing the total to be spent to close to $3 million.  I would encourage the district during the 2013/14 school year to poll the students to find colors that would be the same in the two high schools, mascots that would be the same, and change the names of the high schools to “Southern Tioga North, and Southern Tioga South”.  This way, when and if we do consolidate to one high school in the future, the colors and mascots would already be the same and the only thing the district would need to do is take off the end of the name of the school, “North or South”.

Looking long range…..

Mr. Loudenslager’s wife stated at a board meeting after Mr. Loudenslager did an inspection of the Liberty Elementary School and that we really do not need to do anything to the Liberty Elementary School, with some exceptions to the mechanical, as it was in good condition.  With that, if the board would put the minimal amount of the bond into the schools at Liberty, as stated by Mr. Loudenslager, we should be fine in the Liberty area.

Stuart Hopkins, Derek Wheeland, Glenn Shaffer, and Tim Kreger were contacts in the Liberty petition to begin working on a charter school in the Liberty area.  243 students would be lost to the charter school from the preliminary numbers given to the district by people signing the petition that are currently attending the Liberty area.  If this would transpire, we would need to fund the charter school in 3 ways.  We would need to raise taxes paid into the district by the community, we would need to cut programs, and/or we would need to close more schools.  If the charter school would open and we would lose all of those students to the charter school causing a decline in enrollment in the Liberty area, this would leave the Liberty High School sitting almost empty.  At that point, I would recommend closing the Liberty High School and moving those few remaining students up to the Mansfield High School to preserve our programs and cut costs.


With Blossburg Elementary school remaining open, the centralized location would allow for the locker rooms to remain open for all sports and music that are currently using NPHS as the point of consolidated origin such as marching band, football, wrestling, and track.  Although these sports would not be permitted to keep the North Penn High School name due to PIAA guidelines, they would still be stationed at Island Park.  The names of the teams would then need to be either Southern Tioga North or Southern Tioga South.  The Marching Band already holds the name of “Southern Tioga Marching Band”.  The community would be keeping the auditorium as well for community events, and with the demolition of the two story structure of the current high school, the elementary school would have a larger field to play on during recess time while the band would have a nice field to practice on after school.  The cost of this would not raise the transportation costs for after school activities as the buses are currently already running these routes.

Making the schools safe and secure by placing the safety features presented by Quad 3 in the buildings now should be our number one priority, and by putting the approximate $3 million into the schools to make them functional, would allow the district to then set forth a maintenance plan, which the district has never entertained in the past to my knowledge, to keep the buildings current and running well without needing to take out a major construction bond in the near future or for many years to come.  This would allow the district to pay down its existing debt and focus on the future for a centralized site for a true centralized high school once the existing debt is paid.

Proposed Timeline:

May 29, 2013 – Approval of Superintendent’s Recommendations
May 29, 2013 or June 3, 2013 -  Reject the closure of BES
May 29, 2013 or June 3, 2013 – Allow the Administration to go out to Bid on the Repairs to Blossburg Elementary, Mansfield High School, Liberty High School, and Liberty Elementary SchoolAccept bids as they come in at special board meetings for that purpose.
September 3, 2013 – 780 Hearing to Close NPHS
December 4, 2013 – Vote on the closure of NPHS, Vote on the re-opening of LHS program, and LES building.
January 13, 2014 – Vote to rename Southern Tioga North and Southern Tioga South as well as R.S.Ostrom (LES) elementary school. (Entertain a new name for BES)
January 13, 2014 – Vote on redistricting of NPHS students, send out busing assignments
January 13, 2014 – Vote on accepting the furloughs which will go along with the consolidation of NPHS
February 10, 2014 – Student presentation on Colors and Mascot for STN and STS
April 1, 2014 – Have boxes at NPHS for teacher use for transfers

June 23, 2014 – Have a moving company move NPHS teacher belongings