Southern Tioga families get choices between schools

LIBERTY – Parents in the Southern Tioga School District who want to send their kids to a district school other than where they have been assigned next year will get a choice, as long as the numbers balance, according to school capacity and staffing, and they provide their students’ transportation.

District interim superintendent Sam Rotella Jr. said during a special board meeting Monday he surveyed parents online and found that most wanted to be able to have that choice, and he decided he would review the requests that come in, and if the numbers balance out, it would happen.

Otherwise, the choices would be made in a lottery style drawing of names.

Rotella said there were about 240 people who commented on the survey, which was posted on the district’s website.

“As you can imagine, there were 240 different opinions,” he said.

About 77 percent of respondents had students enrolled, the rest didn’t.

About 60 percent attended Blossburg schools, and 70 percent of those thought there should be some type of choice.

“The most important thing is based on the information I am getting from the board and the public, I needed to put together some type of compromise on choice, to try to make things the best they can be as far as redistricting goes,” he said.

Rotella said high school and elementary school students in the Blossburg schools area, assigned to a different school than they would like to be can fill out a form that will be posted on the district’s website starting May 1 and will remain there till May 12.

At that time, Rotella said, he will review the completed forms, which must be signed by parents.

“Most of the parent concerns have been child care and work and transportation related, and if I can help them out I am glad to do it,” he said. “Parents will have to make some decisions as well about sending high school students to different schools and it may not keep families together,” he added.

In other business, board member John Ritter motioned to put off signing a three-year contract with Susquehanna Health to provide physical training services for district sports teams, urging the board to not take sports off the table to balance the budget, but it died for lack of a second, and the contract passed 8-1 with Ritter voting against.

The board also:

Approved a special education plan and planning committee to identify students with learning disabilities in the district. The number of special education students in the district currently stands at 389. On the planning committee is Dr. Barb Kelly, Director of Special Education; Rotella; Jason Dominick, secondary special education teacher, Nathan McNamara, elementary teacher, and Allison Root, parent.

Renewed a contract with Nutrition Group as Food Services Management Company for the 2014-15 school year 8-1, with Sean Bartlett voting against.