Word about the impending departure of longtime Susquehanna Community Superintendent Bronson Stone broke nearly a month ago. But the school board made it official on Wednesday, Feb. 19, as Stone’s resignation from the post was accepted, with regret.
After 17 years leading the district as superintendent, Stone, 47, of Ararat Twp., will move to Riverside Junior-Senior High School on July 1 to take on the role of principal for seventh to ninth grade students.
He will replace Robert Presley who, prior to his position at Riverside, served as a principal in the Mountain View School District. Reports indicate that Presley will serve as the principal for students in 10th through 12th grades at Riverside, replacing the retiring Joseph Moceyunes.
“It’s been a tremendous pleasure, a great honor and privilege,” Stone said after the board accepted his resignation. He noted the district has had two superintendents in the past 42 years.
Stone said, “The district is in a great place and I know it is going to continue in that fashion. Regardless of who sits in this seat, I know good things will happen here.”
As superintendent of Susquehanna, Stone railed against the impact of cyber charter tuitions on the district. Last week, he pointed out drastic measures school districts across the state are taking to meet those costs. He noted that 12 rural and eight suburban district have eliminated K-4 programs; and 43 rural and 70 suburban K-5 programs have been reduced from full to half days.
The K-4 program in the Susquehanna Community School District will continue for the 2020-21 school year, Stone said.
The board approved a resolution calling for charter school funding reform which stemmed from the Pennsylvania School Board Association. The resolution was added to the district website which states that the funding formula used requires districts to send more money to charter schools than is required to operate the programs.
It calls for the state legislature to revise the existing “flawed charter school funding systems” to make sure districts and taxpayers are not overpaying the schools or reimbursing for costs charter school do not have.
The resolution states that with state Dept. of Education data from 2017-18, charter school tuition payments totaled more than $1.8 billion, with $519 million paid by districts for tuition to cyber charter schools.
According to the resolution, data from 2014-15 show that districts paid charter schools “more than $100 million for special education services in excess of what charter schools reported spending on special education.”
Stone said many Pennsylvania school boards had already approved the PSBA resolution.
In addition to that, the district also added a link to a Stanford University study on PA Cyber Schools. The study examined the performance of students enrolled in charter schools over a four year period.
The study found that students enrolled in online charter schools post significantly weaker growth than both public school or brick-and-mortar charter students.
“This report found overwhelmingly negative results found from online charter schools; any potential benefits of online schooling such as student mobility and flexibility in curriculum are drowned out by the negative impacts on academic growth of students enrolled in such schools,” reads the report in the “Implications” section of the study’s findings.
In other business the board approved the 2020-21 Northeastern Educations Intermediate Unit #19 general operational budget in the amount of $8,086.92; board member Amanda Cook was appointed to serve as the district’s representative to the NEIU #19 Board of Directors.
The Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program for the 2019-20 school year was approved by the board.
The board also offered its approval for district participation in a hospital internship program through the Northern Tier Industrial and Education Consortium (NTIEC).
Approval was also given for the use of the high school cafeteria on March 28 for a Hunter Trapper Education Course sponsored by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
High School Principal Brent Soden noted the upcoming performance of “Beauty and the Beast,” happening the first weekend in March. “It’s a huge show with a lot of moving pieces,” he said.