Board votes to rescind decision to close Liberty Elementary School

MANSFIELD The Southern Tioga School board voted to rescind a motion that was passed in October to close Liberty Elementary School.

The action was approved at the Oct. 2 board meeting after the board decided to hold a public hearing to close North Penn High School.

Before the vote, new board vice president Sean Bartlett clarified that his motion to rescind was “not a guarantee the school shouldn’t close, it is an admission we don’t have a plan.”

“It seems this initial motion was made to pursue a plan that was already not shown to be feasible,” he added.

Bartlett also noted that in order for any consolidation plan to succeed, “everyone needs to be included, it’s not that the administration cannot lead. I think the administration can lead it. We need to roll this back and only pursue it if it becomes the most evidently viable solution.”

Board member Dan Berguson said he “agreed the board does need a plan.”

“I think the elementary schools provide value to the communities. Back in October, I became aware we are really looking at a two school closure, but closing an elementary school is a poor educational choice,” he said.

Board member Ivan Erway agreed.

“Moving forward, the consolidation of high schools is a pertinent item, not the closure of an elementary school,” he said. “This was originally intended to close the building, but it is not necessary at this point. If it becomes needed, we can look at it after we look at a more viable study.”

The roll call vote was unanimous, with board member Kyle Lefheloc absent.

The board also:

bHeard from Hunt Engineers about consulting on a consolidation plan that would cost the district between $10,000 and $15,000.

Heard from new director of curriculum and technology Sam Rotella about a state department of education mandated comprehensive plan for the district. The last one was done in 2006 by then director Dr. Sharon Miller.

Heard from superintendent Keith Yarger about the timeline for hiring a new principal of Warren L. Miller Elementary School to replace Rotella. According to Yarger, the deadline is today for applications to be submitted, followed by screening the applications Dec. 9. Then between Dec. 10-13 he will schedule interviews, with the first round Jan. 7, and the final round Jan. 10. On Jan. 13 a recommendation for employment will be made and voted on by the board and on Jan. 14 or as soon as possible thereafter, the new principal will begin work.