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Jill Nickerson & Sara Herbst co-chair the Save Our Schools coalition.

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Media: Battle over North Penn schools project may be heating up

clock May 10, 2011 00:45 by author Heidi |

May 10, 2011

MANSFIELD - The North Penn Schools building project, though it hasn't officially begun, already is under fire by several members of the public who attended the Southern Tioga School Board meeting in the high school gym Monday.

Several people asked the board to "revisit" its plans to spend $19.5 million on a North Penn schools restructuring/renovation project in light of a $2.5 million deficit in its 2010-11 budget.

Read more at http://www.sungazette.com/page/content.detail/id/563772/Battle-over-North-Penn-schools-project-may-be-heating-up.html?nav=5014

Report of Our Meeting with STSD Admnistration

clock May 8, 2011 16:32 by author Heidi |

Report from May 6, 2011, Meeting with STSD Administration

Jill and I met with several members of the Southern Tioga School District administration on Friday. I’m not going to say which administrators were there other than new superintendent Keith Yarger since he is the public face of the district in partnership with the board. Carolyn Moyer from Liberty also attended. The administrators were very helpful, open, and patient, and they definitely have a “let’s work together,” problem-solving attitude. Jill and I are very grateful to them for taking two hours out of their busy schedules to listen, respond and discuss. We approached this meeting not as advocates for North Penn, but as community members listening to and reflecting the concerns of citizens of the whole district.[1] We were seeking information and understanding on issues of concern.

First, Jill described the meeting process, which you can read about in the blog post about the meetings. As we discussed the results, a couple of important points came out:


Results of the Community Meetings

clock May 7, 2011 12:07 by author Heidi |

Jill facilitated three community meetings: Liberty 5/3, 27 attendees; Blossburg 5/4, 20 attendees;  and Mansfield 5/5, 20 attendees. She used a consensus-building style of facilitating to provide participants with an opportunity to discuss their concerns and questions within the context of a set of structured questions. Let's start the report by asking you to answer each of the questions:

1. What are the strengths of your community’s schools?

2. What are the weaknesses of your community’s schools?

3. As the school district faces this budget crisis, what do you want the  board and administration to know about what you value?

4. What improvements would help fill the gap between “what is” and “what ought to be”?

Take a few minutes to write down your thoughts on those questions. Write down everything (that's called "brainstorming") and then step back and look at what might be your top three ideas for each question.  If you're reading with a friend, compare your answers and see if you can come to a top three that you share. I'll wait ;-)


A Special Thank You

clock May 6, 2011 00:45 by author SOS |

I would just like to send out a special thank you to John and Norma Martin!  Their support over the past three days during our community meetings has been amazing.  I appreciate your motivation!  - JillLaughing

Putting Budget Numbers Together

clock May 3, 2011 17:22 by author Heidi |

Jill & I have been working on making the budget numbers comprehensible and useful for the community discussions. A kind reader sent a link to the PA Department of Education page that shows the 2010-11 estimated and 2011-12 proposed state funding calculations for each school district. 


  Basic Education Funding Federal ARRA (stimulus) Total
2010-11* $7,889,041 $1,008,793 $8,897,834
2011-12** $8,047,006 $0 $8,047,006
Sums +$157,965 -$1,008,793 -$850,828

* Estimated

** Proposed

There are several ways to look at these numbers - we can say that the district knew that the ARRA money wasn't going to continue, should have planned for it, and should be grateful for the 2 percent basic education funding increase that the state is giving. Or we can look at it as Corbett's proposed budget cuts our education funding by $850K. You're welcome to debate that, but I'm in the more practical frame of "Oh, crap. This is where we are, what are we going to do?"


Southern Tioga teachers ask for time to consider pay freeze

clock May 3, 2011 14:45 by author Bev & Dave |
May 3, 2011
By CHERYL R. CLARKE (cclarke@sungazette.com) , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

BLOSSBURG - Though they all seemed to agree that a pay freeze is justified in the harsh economic climate Pennsylvania school districts find themselves in, Southern Tioga School District teachers who spoke to the school board Monday night also all seemed to agree that a Thursday deadline to decide was too much to ask.

The board has told the Southern Tioga Teachers Association that if a decision is not made by Thursday, "more furloughs (read more)