North Penn High School should close, super says

BLOSSBURG – Superintendent Keith Yarger has recommended that the North Penn High School be closed by the start of the 2014-15 school year. He made the suggestion to the Southern Tioga School Board during a public hearing Wednesday to address the school closure issue.

Blossburg Elementary School and all other district schools would remain open under Yarger’s recommendation.

With the closing, he said, most of the nearly $20 million in bond money the district borrowed in 2010 to renovate and reconstruct North Penn would be returned on the call date in March 2016, with a small amount to repair other buildings.

Yarger explained that a steady decline in enrollment is the main reason for the closure.

He noted that, at 1,816 students, the district already is well below the 2020 enrollment projections of 1,941 that architectural firm Quad 3 projected several years ago.

“There has been a decline of 126 students since September 2012, and (we’ve) dropped 696 students over the past 15 years,” Yarger added.

Keeping all schools open, even with yearly tax increases still would result in a $9 to $12 million deficit by 2017-18, he said.

The closure will result in nine professional staff reductions and five support staff reductions, with the promise of more cuts if enrollment continues to decline.

One principal would be split between Blossburg and Liberty elementary schools.

In addition, 21 supplemental contracts, such as advisers and other extracurricular positions, would be eliminated.

The poor condition of the high school, constructed in 1935, was given a 2.4 evaluation by Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, which also contributed to his recommendation.

The money kept back from the bond issue would go toward making maintenance and upgrades to the rest of the district’s buildings, save Miller Elementary, which was renovated and upgraded two years ago.

The locker rooms at North Penn still would be used for sports, which would remain the same as now – football, wrestling and track – but would need a new name, he added.

District residents may comment on the recommendation until Dec. 6. Send emails to, or mail or drop written comments off at the district office in Blossburg.