Southern Tioga member added, building plans reviewed

BLOSSBURG – John Martin, of Mansfield, was appointed and sworn in to the Southern Tioga School Board Monday.

The vote was 5-3 with Frank Kollar, Kyle Lefheloc, Ivan Erway, Dan Berguson and Stephen Hall voting for Martin over Sean Bartlett, of Richmond Township, to replace Robert McConnell, who resigned last month. Barb Shull, Sally Knipe and Sue Jaquish voted for Bartlett. Four candidates were interviewed.

Martin will have to run in the November general election to keep his seat.

In other business, Quad 3 architect Sam Scarantino presented a report on the status of the district’s building project and then asked the board to give permission for the firm to proceed with new design plans.

Scarantino reported he had been able to come up with some substantial reductions in the overall project costs for both the North Penn High School renovation and renovations to Liberty High School to turn it into an elementary school, on the condition that the board goes through with plans to close Blossburg Elementary School and use part of it to house about 430 Liberty High School students beginning in the fall.

With a project cost goal of $16 million, Scarantino estimated the district would receive about $1 million less in reimbursement from the state Department of Education because the scope of the project has been reduced from around $19 million.

“We feel very confident you could do both schools for under $16 million, with several contingencies built in for unknowns,” Scarantino said.

The board will vote next week on closing Blossburg Elementary School and sending its

students to Warren L. Miller and Liberty. It will have to hold a public hearing and go through the same procedure as when it decided to close Liberty High School curriculum and move Liberty Elementary School students into a renovated high school building. The elementary school would be closed until the board decides what to do with it.

Scarantino laid out a preliminary construction phase in plan starting June 1 to renovate the sixth grade wing of the former Blossburg Elementary School, and having that completed by August in time to house high school students coming from Liberty.

“We leave the North Penn students where they are, which leaves half to renovate without students,” Scarantino added.

The music and art rooms would be renovated from December to March 2014 and the auditorium would be renovated from March through May, also next year.

“By moving a class or two for a few months shouldn’t be too bad,” he said.

The auditorium would be renovated March through May and the gym May through July and the locker room June through August.

Finally, he said, from January through March of 2015 would be done on the kitchen. One of the last things is to renovate the library into home economics room toward the end of that year.

“The students don’t get disrupted other than moving students from one side of the building to the other,” he said.

At the same time, Liberty High School renovations could be completed over this summer, in time for school to start in the fall, Scarantino added.

Les Bear, of R.W. Baird, said the reimbursement from the state would be more like about $2.5 million less than originally planned in 2010, both because the scope of the project has been reduced and the percentage has gone down from 24 percent to about 22.5 percent.

He also told the board that the original 2010a bond issue would be eligible for refunding along with the 2009 issue for a total between the two of $10 million “to capture around $200,000 in savings if the market remains at current levels.”