Board votes to close North Penn High

LIBERTY – The Southern Tioga School District Board Monday night voted to close North Penn High School.

The 8-1 vote followed much discussion among school directors who pretty much were in agreement that the move had to be made given the district’s shaky financial status.

The school closing leaves the district with just two high schools, Mansfield and Liberty.

Ivan Erway, the lone board member who voted against closing the high school, argued that a better move would be to consolidate the three high schools into one.

“We will have a large high school (Mansfield) with lots of advantages,” Erway said.

Students attending the smaller Liberty High School will miss out on some of the benefits of being at Mansfield, he further argued.

Of the about 50 area residents attending the meeting, very few spoke out either against or in favor of the closing.

One resident said she felt more educational opportunities exist for students at Mansfield High School.

School directors voting in favor of the closing were John Ritter, Michele McDermott, John Martin, James Kreger, Stephen Guillaume, Sandra Olson, Julie Miller and Sean Bartlett.

Guillaume said it made no sense from an economic standpoint to keep open three schools.

“This is not the final solution,” he said. This is a step.”

Bartlett said deeper cuts in the budget beyond closing a school will have to be made at some point.

For now, the district should move forward and focus on how to provide students for the best possible education, he added.

Miller said she’s confident that staff and administrators will do what’s best for students.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Ritter said. “One high school might be best eventually, but this is a step in the right direction.”

District officials noted that the school closing will result in some staff cuts.

However, at this point how many jobs will be lost still must be determined.

Guillaume said the board will receive a recommendation from the administration on how to proceed with personnel.

The board also discussed approving a policy that continues with the practice allowing students to choose what high school they attend.

Miller said she felt it was a bit premature at this point to make such a decision.

Erway argued that such a policy should be in place by at least May to allow parents the opportunity to plan for their children’s education.

The board postponed the decision until May.