I appreciate that the Southern Tioga School Board has a goal of keeping a school open in each of its three attendance areas. But for several reasons I feel that their current plan for closing school(s) is not the best way to go. There could be a way to avoid the fiscal problems they may have if they do not change their current plans.
During the April 8th school board meeting, one of the board members said that they had asked "some people" in the Northern Tioga School District what they would have done differently for their recent consolidation. Their response was that "they wished they had rebranded their sports teams. That everything else worked out for them." What worked well for them was the closing the high school in the middle of their district, even though it was the newest. They are now in the black financially. I am sure that this will help them keep up with and improve their educational programs.
For some reason the Southern Tioga School Board seems to think that one minor problem about rebranding is a reason not to follow the Northern Tioga example. I do not know exactly what other factors Northern Tioga used to make the decisions they did, but their decision seem to be working. They are now even discussing building one new "central" high school.
I think that Southern Tioga can be as successful as Northern Tioga with having five schools in their district. There would still be one school in each attendance area. North Penn High School is the one that is planned to be repaired, or rebuilt, and some people think that this is where the school board wants to eventually put their "central" high school in a few years. I think that it would make the most fiscal sense to close that school because it is the one that needs the most repairs. There are far fewer things that need to be done to the Liberty and Mansfield high schools. The Liberty High School cannot be in too bad of shape since the current plans are to move the Liberty Elementary School into that building. So far as I know there are no immediate or necessary changes that need to be made to the current Liberty Elementary School building.
With all the fiscal uncertainties, such as reimbursement from the state for the current project, transportation reimbursement, teacher contracts (which are still under way), health care costs and the cost of refunding the State Employees Pension Funds, I am sure that the taxpayers are going to get the brunt of the responsibility of paying for this unnecessary (at this time) project.
I urge the Southern Tioga School Board members to reconsider their current plans, to return the returnable portion of the borrowed money, and make the necessary repairs to the schools that need it. This will save the taxpayers money and provide more opportunity, in a safe environment to educate our children.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom