MANSFIELD - Southern Tioga School District board members got an earful from a large contingent of Liberty area residents upset that the board closed their school and will bus their children to North Penn in the fall.
The group, identified by its leader, Glenn Shaffer, of Liberty Township, as the Liberty Area Concerned Citizens Committee, gathered nearly 200 signatures in 10 days which Shaffer presented to the board along with their intentions to start their own charter school.
Others who spoke said they planned to enroll their children in cyber-school or homeschool them.
Shaffer compared his experience with the school board as a "roller coaster ride" and said "we have had enough. We have been ignored and deceived enough. Tonight we have started our own movement to forge ahead with the development of a charter school to serve our students' needs."
"We cannot sit idly by while board members push their personal agendas and squander our district's funds. We are Liberty, and we will not back down," Shaffer said, to loud and sustained applause.
Jim Weaver, of Morris, said he wanted to know where the board was spending $16 million of the taxpayers' money.
"You are acting irresponsibly and I don't care about your agenda. Mine is my kids and my community and I will do everything I can to make sure this happens," he added..
Floyd Kolb, of Liberty, who is a borough councilman and a member of the municipal authority, told the board they were putting sports ahead of education.
He cited as an example the board's discussion just prior to the citizen's comment portion of the meeting about whether or not the contract with Blossburg Borough to use Island Park for sports programs should be tabled for review to make sure it had an exit clause if the district must cut sports programs within the contract period.
The board ended up approving an amended contract on condition the clause was inserted and approved by the Blossburg Borough Council, which also voted on the contract during its board meeting Monday.
Earlier in the meeting, the board approved the furlough of eight teachers mostly from North Penn High School, as a result of the impending Liberty High School closure.
Board member Sally Knipe was the only no vote after Superintendent Keith Yarger's recommendation to furlough the employees effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year. Board member Dan Berguson was absent.
Those employees furloughed were Jason Chimics, social studies teacher, Mansfield High School; Alana Iapalucci, English teacher, Liberty High School; Caitlin Hatcher, English teacher, North Penn High School; Tonya Lisowski, math teacher, North Penn High School; Shaun Boyer, technology teacher, North Penn High School; Krista Roman, Spanish teacher, North Penn High School; Amy Czako, physical education teacher, Blossburg and Liberty elementary schools; and Allison Maslar, enrichment teacher, Blossburg and Liberty schools.
The board also approved the reorganization of the district athletic program for the 2013-14 school year. For the Blossburg area there will be boys and girls tennis; varsity, JV and junior high football; varsity, JV and junior high wrestling; boys and girls track and field; boys and girls varsity, JV and junior high basketball and cheerleading.
For the Mansfield area, there will be boys and girls varsity, JV and junior high soccer; varsity and JV softball; varsity and JV baseball; golf, boys and girls cross country; junior high cross-country; varsity, JV and junior high volleyball; boys and girls varsity, JV and junior high basketball and cheerleading.
In other business, the board heard an update by Will Schlosser, district transition facilitator, on the cost of "rebranding" sports uniforms for Mansfield and North Penn with Mansfield's estimated cost $22,540 and North Penn's $33,800.
The cost of a wrestling mat would be about $14,000, he added.
A buildings and grounds committee meeting will be held Thursday at noon at the North Penn High School auditorium.