Southern Tioga moves to furlough 13 faculty

BLOSSBURG – The Southern Tioga School Board voted Monday to furlough 13 of its teaching staff and demote one to half-time, relative to seniority, as a result of the North Penn High School closure.

Furloughed were Selina Bogaczyk, Jason Chimics, Michael Frederick, Derreck Godin, Alana Iapalucci, Tonya Lisowski, Allison Maslar and Lori Nelson.

Employees whose contracts were not renewed were Jeffrey Everett, Kelci Carson, Jeffrey Martin, Sarah Murray and Richard Smochek.

Demoted to half-time was Michael Boarts

Erway was the lone vote against the furloughs.

With the budget still at least $194,000 in the red for next year, the furloughs were only the first step in the process of the board’s attempt to balance the budget.

Interim Superintendent Sam Rotella said the staff exhibited the utmost professionalism they day they got the news.

“The professionalism they demonstrated that day was beyond reproach and the sad thing is we are losing good people,” Rotella said.

The board also voted to transfer several teachers as a result of the closure for the next school year.

In addition the board voted to redistribute and rebrand sports teams with minor changes.

Instead of going with a Southern Tioga North and Southern Tioga South option for the two remaining high schools in the district, Mansfield High School will be renamed North Penn-Mansfield High School; and Liberty High School will be renamed North Penn-Liberty High School.

The vote was 8-1 with board member Julie Miller voting against.

A second decision to define which sports teams will use what uniforms, colors and mascots next year was referred to student activities committee discussion.

Miller said she didn’t think the name change offered a clear branding.

“This a little bit discombobulated. I think the students need to have a say but at the same time I have a hard time spending any money on signage,” she said. Miller motioned to postpone the decision, but the motion died for lack of a second.

The sports redistribution motion passed as it was presented 6-3, with board members John Ritter, Jim Kreger and Michelle McDermott voting no.

Tennis, which would be housed at Liberty and be known as the Mounties would be played at the only viable tennis courts in the district, which are located at Island Park here, and girl’s volleyball which has always been strong at Mansfield, was moved to Liberty High School in the fall.

Kreger said he thought maybe it would be better to switch girl’s soccer to Liberty, rather than volleyball.

On a motion from Kreger to postpone the vote, board members Sean Bartlett, Ivan Erway, Steve Guillaume, Miller, Sandra Olsen and McDermott voted no; Ritter and Kreger voted yes.

In other business, the board heard from interim superintendent Sam Rotella who addressed some Blossburg Elementary School parents who have concerns about their children being bussed to different schools next year in the district’s transition process.

“Probably having parents be able to choose any school is somewhat unmanageable for us,” he said.

Rotella said he has heard from various parents about the issue “and I’ve tried to get back to every one of them. We will take that information and look at it and see if there is anything we can possibly do,” he added.

He noted that those with medical issues, will be handled the same way they we have in the past.

“We have run numbers for the high schools and looking at everything, the high schools are within 15 students of capacity the administration came up with,” Rotella said.

Rotella also encouraged parents to participate in an online survey that has been placed on the district’s website.

“Maps of attendance areas also are posted online. They are done by each area,” he said.

The board also:

* Approved a memorandum of understanding for dual enrollment at Mansfield University.

* Postponed an action item that would have authorized the business manager to solicit proposals for athletic training services for the 2014-15 school year with Olsen voting against postponement. Susquehanna Health System has been the long time provider for the district and offered its services again next year for an increase of $1,000 over this year.

* Approved memorandums of understanding with Mansfield and Blossburg boroughs and state police at Mansfield for the upcoming school year.

* In a split decision, approved committee meetings be held with opportunity for the public to comment following each topic of discussion.