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Mercersburg Academy to expand dorms

February 13, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Mercersburg Academy plans to begin a $10 million project next month to expand student and faculty housing at the private school.

Construction for the first phase of the project could start as early as March, said academy spokesperson Gail Wolfe, who presented preliminary plans and architectural drawings Tuesday before the Mercersburg Council.

"The school is continuously trying to maintain its reputation as a school of excellence," Wolfe said. "We looked at what we could do next to become a more prominent boarding school in the country."

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The private, co-educational day and boarding school completed a $13.5 million library construction and academic building renovation project in 1994.

Academy officials approached Mercersburg Council members Tuesday to inform them of their plans since they want to fund the upcoming project with bonds similar to what they did last time, Wolfe said.

School officials will meet with the Council again when the academy is ready to finance the project. The academy will seek the Council's approval of the plans so that the school can apply for tax-exempt financing, said Borough Manager Judy Chambers.

The community may have an opportunity to buy tax-exempt bonds from the academy for as low as $1,000, Wolfe said.

The first part of the project, scheduled to start in March and be completed by August, includes building three new dormitories at a cost of $1.2 million, Wolfe said. The new housing will enable the school to spread out its students.

"With the needs of today's students, we need a smaller student-to-faculty ratio in the dorms," Wolfe said.

Currently there are as many as 30 students and one faculty member living on each floor of the existing dormitories, Wolfe said. A total of 380 students attend the school, including those who do live at the academy.

The academy's goal is to provide housing for one faculty member per 10 to 14 students on each floor, Wolfe said.

The $4.1 million second stage of the project is to build additions on the east and west sides of Tippetts Hall, a student dormitory, for faculty residences.

One addition will include a single-level home to accommodate a faculty member and family. A large two-bedroom apartment will be constructed above the first floor.

The other addition will also be made into two-and three-bedroom apartments, Wolfe said.

"At one time we had all single male faculty members with all single male students," Wolfe said. "Now we have people (faculty) with families who want to live in the dorms."

A $4.6 million phase of the project, planned for 1998, is a complete utility renovation of Main Hall, Tippetts Hall and Fowle Hall.

"It's wonderful to see progress wherever it is," said Mercersburg Council President Bob Brindle.

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