Long-range planning committee discusses future education ideas

BLOSSBURG – The Southern Tioga School District long range planning committee met Tuesday to discuss ideas for the future of the district’s six school buildings and its curriculums.

Board members in attendance were Chairman Kyle Lefheloc, Ivan Erway, John Martin and Sally Knipe and Superintendent Keith Yarger.

Yarger said when he first arrived as the district’s new superintendent two years ago, the North Penn schools building project was moving forward, but then the governor froze the Plan Con reimbursements, “so we decided to hold off and wait.”

“Later on, he decided anyone currently in the system could be continue, but we still were not sure what to do,” he said.

When Gov. Tom Corbett released his budget, and it contained the $296 million in the PlanCon budget, the same amount as the previous year.

“We came up with the projections for the board showing at least one school building in each community, and we came up with Option 7,” he said.

That option included closing the elementary school, but at the time in order to get the reimbursement “we would have to wait to close the elementary school until after the building project was completed a year later, and then later we were told we could go ahead and close it right away.”

“Things are changing with PlanCon and with the governor, so though it seems we are telling the community different things, we are going with what we are told,” he said.

“Even though the budget gets tighter, we are committed to continue offering as much as we can to the students of the district. So that is what brought us here tonight. We are at a point now where we have to look at educational offerings of the district,” Yarger said.

The committee went on to discuss what offerings for students it wanted to see and to “learn to think out of the box educationally.”

Vocational programming, including what will be offered at Mansfield University in an agreement with Susquehanna Career Technology Institute starting in the fall was discussed, along with testing and alternative means of finding out what students’ strengths and interests are.

Brenda Freeman, director of technology and curriculum said the programs at MU, such as law enforcement, agricultural, small engine repair, culinary arts and early childhood education, could start in ninth grade with career exploration with a goal of clinical experience by the senior year.

Committee member Sally Knipe wondered if the district should be “looking at having one school so we can offer all that we need in one space?”

“Eventually it would be good to get down to one high school, it would be easier to work with those students rather than duplicating services, but I don’t think we have the means to do that right at the moment,” Yarger said.

The building and grounds committee meets today at noon at the North Penn High School auditorium to hear an update from Quad 3 architect Sam Scarantino on the North Penn building project.