Southern Tioga elects 3 new board members

LIBERTY – The Southern Tioga School District board elected three new members to replace the three who resigned in January.

The three who resigned were Kyle Lefheloc, representing Mansfield and Richmond Township, and Dan Berguson and Sarah Knipe, representing Blossburg and Liberty.

In the end, it was more about where applicants were from than who they were in determining whether they got the position or not, as all candidates brought good things to the table, according to board president Steven Guilliaume.

Following the interviews, the board unanimously voted to elect Julie Miller, of Mansfield, to represent Mansfield and Richmond; and Sandra Olson, of Blossburg, and Michele McDermott, of Steam Valley, to represent the Blossburg and Liberty area.

One applicant withdrew his name at the last minute, said board president Steven Guilliaume, leaving only Miller.

Nine people applied to represent the Blossburg and Liberty area- Glenn Shaffer, of Liberty; John Backman, of Blossburg; Harry Gerrish. of Liberty, Olson; Stephanie Mitstifer, of Liberty; Lynn Thompson, of Blossburg; McDermott; Dawn Hull, of Blossburg; and Arthur Plaxton, of Liberty.

Three questions were asked of each candidate – what do you consider to be the board’s biggest challenge, what would your biggest challenge as a board member be and what data would you need to make a tough decision like cutting programs or raising taxes.

The board voted unanimously to elect Olson on the basis of her experience on the board in the early 1990s, and McDermott because she has children in the district that attend Liberty schools.

Guillaume said he agreed with board member Sean Bartlett on the need for geographic parity on the board.

“Our communities are fractured and for us to make the decision that two should come from one community, I don’t think that would work. I am looking for people who can start healing the divisiveness in our communities,” he said.

“The other thing is Liberty schools do not have any board members who represent kids in the district. You have Ivan from Blossburg, Sean from Mansfield (and) John Martin has kids in all three, but there really is no direct parental linkage, so to me that is a key factor as I make my decision, so the public should be aware what is driving my choices this evening,” he added.

Erway noted that both candidates nominated are “good solid parents.”

“All the candidates would bring a lot to the table. There are a lot of solid parents that care about kids,” he said.