BLOSSBURG - The Southern Tioga School Board voted 5-4 to close Liberty High School during its Monday meeting. The board then voted 5-4 against closing North Penn High School, but tabled accepting bids for the $20 million building project, which now will be pursued.
Those voting for closing Liberty were Dan Berguson, Frank Kollar, Ivan Erway, Stephan Hall and Kyle Lefheloc. Those voting against closing Liberty were Barb Shull, Sue Jaquish, Bob McConnell and Sally Knipe. The tally was reversed for the North Penn vote.
The bids, according to Shull, came in so close to what the board has left to spend in total, nearly $18 million, that there will be little to nothing left over for other costs associated with the project.
The board now must figure out where it will get the $1.5 million it needs to renovate Liberty High School into an elementary school, as planned.
Superintendent Keith Yarger recommended the board do the high school part of the project, but do the minimum to the Blossburg Elementary School, leaving open the possibility of closing it in the future.
Quad 3 architect Sam Scarantino reminded the board it must do the entire project as it was submitted to the state Department of Education, if it expects to get the 22.8 percent reimbursement from the state, or "start all over again, and the state isn't accepting any new building projects."
The board decided to meet again next week, but did not set a date, to vote on the bids.
The vote left Blossburg residents in a state of euphoria while Liberty residents, many of whom spoke before the vote, walked out of the North Penn High School auditorium in stunned silence.
Hall said it likely was just the beginning of school closures to make the district "financially stable."