BLOSSBURG - At a special Southern Tioga School District board meeting, Dorothy Norman, of Liberty, told the board that she said was not "cold hearted" because she "hates to see any school close," but that the district should be held "legally responsible" should the board decide to go through with the North Penn building project.
"I feel like a mother scolding her kids as I write this, but it sums up how I have felt the last two years about this cart before the horse kind of thing," she said.
Because, she said, the district has shown "irresponsibility in sound fiscal management, past and present" the administration should be held "legally responsible."
She further stated that the board and administration had failed to manage and coordinate high school academics and is not "addressing education as a priority."
"The district has declared insufficient funding and thereby cuts ... the arts, which provide lifelong amenities, and (has) not been able to coordinate cost cutting other than combining sports programs," she said.
She called on the board to "halt any drastic changes being considered "as there has been "no proof of improved scholastic achievement or financial stability offered."
"If consolidation is the only way to rectify the fiscal mistakes of the past, with common sense, and with an educated plan, we can proceed with some form of consolidation on a site more suitable and accommodating than the one proposed, or we will fail as educators and role models for our students and communities," she said.
Harry Gerrish, of Liberty, asked Superintendent Keith Yarger if the board would know how much it would cost to retrofit Liberty High School for elementary school students before it accepted bids to do the $20 million North Penn project, and Yarger responded affirmatively but could not say how much it would cost.
Sean Bartlett, of Richmond Township, told the board "whatever is ultimately selected, the devil is in the details, if it is not well thought out, it almost always costs more than expected, and frequently it fails. We've not seen a lot of detail publicly. The reality is systems only succeed if you have the buy-in of the people involved and here you have parents and teachers who feel disenfranchised and not involved and if you don't have their buy-in, it will fail."
The bids for the North Penn project came in slightly lower than the first time it was bid, but the board took no action Monday.
Quad 3 architect Sam Scarantino presented the low bids only to the board, which he said totaled about $56,000 lower than the first go round several months ago.
According to Scarantino, the total low bid the first time, which includes general construction, roofing, electrical, plumbing, heating and air condition, food service and fire protection, was $17.46 million. The low bid this time was $17.41 million.
Among the bids this time were for general construction, J.C. Orenson, $9.4 million; roofing, T.G. Corp., $1.4 million; plumbing and heating and air conditioning, Silvertip Inc., $1.25 million and $28 million; electrical, Lecce Inc., food service, 11400 Inc., $313,400, an increase of $145,000; and fire protection, Triangle Fire Protection, $540,000, an increase of $126,000.
The bids that increased likely did so because the bidders were the only ones to bid, Scarantino said.
Superintendent Keith Yarger asked anyone making comments to provide them in writing either via mail or email at firstname.lastname@example.org so they could be added to the hearing comments. The deadline for receiving public comment on the project is Oct. 4, he reminded those in attendance.