Southern Tioga board eliminates positions

BLOSSBURG – Fifteen high school teachers, six support staff and 20 coaching and advisory positions were eliminated effective the end of this school year following action at a special Southern Tioga School Board meeting Tuesday.

The action came because of the North Penn High School closure, also effective the end of the school year.

According to Southern Tioga School District Interim Superintendent Sam Rotella, the elimination will put about a $700,000 dent in next year’s budget shortfall of $1.8 million.

“That is an average and we have to add back unemployment, but that amounts to about $55,000 per person plus benefits,” Rotella said.

The eliminated positions will not come from just North Penn, but will be spread districtwide.

“I will be working with the staff and unions to identify who those individual staff will be and it will be formalized by board vote at the April 14 board meeting,” he added.

The full board of directors voted unanimously to eliminate the positions, including reducing a full-time art teacher to half time, a business education teacher, a family and consumer science teacher, a social studies teacher, a math teacher, a technology teacher, a world language teacher, two physical education teachers, a music teacher, a gifted teacher, three English teachers and two special education teachers.

In addition, several support positions also were eliminated, including two secretaries, two part-time library positions and two full-time custodians.

Supplemental contract cuts included a dean of students, student activities director, head boys basketball coach, assistant boys basketball coach, a junior high boys basketball coach, an assistant junior high boys basketball coach, a head girls basketball coach, an assistant girls basketball coach, a junior high girls basketball coach, an assistant junior high girls basketball coach, a yearbook adviser, a student council adviser, a stage production adviser, a senior class adviser, a junior class adviser, a sophomore class adviser, a freshman class adviser, an Odyssey of the Mind adviser – secondary, a National Honor Society adviser and a Future Business Leaders of America adviser.

In a hot-button issue, the board voted 6-3 against allowing parents to choose which school their children will be allowed to attend next year.

Voting in favor were Sandra Olson, Ivan Erway and John Martin.

Voting against were board President Stephen Guillaume, Vice President Sean Bartlett, Secretary John Ritter and members Jim Kreger, Michelle McDermott and Julie Miller

Rotella said there was “a lot of discussion, with some board members wanting staff to be allowed to move their children where they were working, and those who wanted to allow grandfathering students who were allowed to do it last year to do it again this year, and then there was more discussion about the logistics of how it could happen in time for the next school year.”

“Some wanted to have the administration look at parameters and others thought that it should be moved to committee to bring it up some time down the road, but not the next school year because the time frame was too tight,” he added.

Rotella said one problem with allowing it to happen next year would be how to handle it “if too many choose one school over the other, and then how do you deal with that without class sizes becoming out of control and there not being physical room or staff in the school,” Rotella said.

“It just was too grandiose a project to implement for next school year,” he added.

The board tabled a motion until the next board meeting on moving forward with re-branding the two remaining high schools after discussing costs, which could run upward of $100,000, Rotella said.

“The general consensus is they weren’t going to spend a lot of money on it but try to find a way to create new schools at a minimum cost impact,” he said.