Superintendent on medical leave to resign

MANSFIELD – There seems to be a personnel shake-up going on in the Southern Tioga School District. Starting at the top, district superintendent Keith Yarger will resign his position the end of June, following a previously approved medical leave starting Feb. 1 to care for a sick member of his family.

The vote was unanimous to approve the action item during the meeting, at which Yarger was absent.

Board President Steve Guilliaume read a public statement from the board wishing Yarger and his family a speedy recovery and continued success in the future.

But during the citizen comment portion of the meeting, Kevin Petersen of Blossburg, who identified himself as Yarger’s stepson, said his stepfather didn’t resign, but rather made an “agreement” with the board with which Petersen didn’t agree.

Petersen first thanked board for granting the medical leave so Yarger could care for his mother, but then added, “I believe he was pushed by the board to this agreement, which I don’t agree with and I wanted everyone to understand that.”

Also resigning effective Jan. 27 is Penny Crowell, longtime board secretary and human resources specialist.

The board also approved the resignations of three board members.

Kyle Lefheloc, representing Region 3, and Dan Berguson, representing Region 1, submitted their resignations at the Jan. 6 board work session.

A third board member, Sarah Knipe, representing Region 1, submitted her resignation, effective Monday night, for health reasons, leaving three open spots on the board to be filled.

After thanking Dan Berguson for 10 years on the board, as well as Lefheloc and Knipe, board member Ivan Erway thanked Crowell for her 25 years of service.

“I also put the challenge out there, what we truly need is more parents of kids in school right now. If you are a parent of kids in school right now, I say you are a prime candidate to come on this board.” Erway said.

The board also approved the hire of Patty White as principal at W. L. Miller Elementary School, effective today. Erway was the lone opposing vote.

White will receive an annual salary of $73,000, to be pro-rated for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year, plus benefits as defined by the Act 93 Agreement.

“I would still recommend an external candidate be considered. I know the personnel committee as a whole recommends it, but I still stand by what I stated in the interview process,” Wheeler said.

Sean Bartlett said he went into the hiring process “a little concerned about her going in and us sending the message that the decision was already made. I have to say I was impressed with the caliber of the candidates the district attracted, and every other candidate was at a disadvantage, because she went first and she set the bar so high. We selected the best candidate.”

John Martin said he was really looking for an external person “but Patty’s interview was exceptional. We have the right person.”

The board also approved the hire of Shareen Roupp as business office specialist in the Boyanowski Administration Building, retroactive to Jan. 6. Roupp will receive an annual salary of $23,000 plus benefits.

In other business, the board voted to rescind a decision made at the Nov. 12 directing the administration to conduct a study of a concept of a consolidated high school for grades 912 at Mansfield High School, a grades K-8 facility at Blossburg and Mansfield, a grades K-6 facility at Liberty, and identifying opportunities in facilities for vocational education programs, with financial and educational impact as the focus, conducted by an outside firm and going out to bid to find a firm to conduct the study with a focus on educational impact.

Erway said he still thinks the concept is a valid one.

“We will never have equal education for all students as long as there are several high schools in this district. No matter what, you will always be in a financial bind. It is not economically feasible to keep a course open for two students. We need to always be looking for the best education for all the kids of this school district, because all our kids count,” he said before voting no on the question.

Guilliaume said the administration’s job is to identify the best way to educate the students.

“You are the ones in the trenches, working with the students, I hope you will come to any board member and say this is something we need to look at,” he said.

The board also:

Approved a memorandum of understanding with the Southern Tioga Education Association regarding seniority lot drawing.

Hired Brett Upham, assistant junior high school boys basketball coach for Liberty High School at $1,231, instead of head basketball coach originally approved at the Dec. 5 board meeting.

Hired Kevin Lehman, assistant junior high school wrestling coach for North Penn High School at $1,231, pending receipt of complete application packet.

Tabled appointing board member John Martin as board representative to the Blossburg Borough Recreation Association for a five-year term to the next meeting.

Elected Bartlett as board representative to Intermediate Unit 17.

Elected Kathy Ciaciulli as new board secretary and John Ritter as new board treasurer through June.

Appointed Ciaciulli as delegate to the Tioga County Tax Collection Committee, with Roupp as alternate.

Announced a special board meeting Jan. 27 at Mansfield High School to discuss the budget and a special board meeting Feb. 3 at Liberty High School to fill board vacancies.