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Space crunch expected for Waynesboro schools

November 28, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Enrollments in all six Waynesboro Area School District schools are down and 10-year projections predict a further decline, but that doesn't mean that there won't be space problems, according to an architect's study.

The study, done at no cost to the school board by Gilbert Architects of Lancaster, Pa., points to Waynesboro Area Senior High School as the building with the biggest problem.

The report, which the architects called a "brief overview," offered several long-term options for improving high school space, including building a second high school, a separate building to house the ninth grade, a new building for grades nine and 10 and leaving the existing high school for grades 11 and 12.

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Renovation and expansion of the nearly 30-year-old high school building would be short-term, the report said. It was renovated nine years ago, but there were no mechanical upgrades, said Schools Superintendent Robert Mesaros.

"New construction would be a last resort. We need a lot more information before we can discuss any options," Mesaros said.

Taxpayers would have to approve a bond issue for new construction and that could be a tough sell because of dwindling enrollments, Mesaros said.

The report said storage space is being used for instruction in some buildings. Mesaros explained that was done because new programs and technology require more space.

"We took up classrooms to add a foreign language lab and two computer labs. When you keep up with programs and technology, you give up classroom space and eventually you run out of room. We can still get by in the high school in terms of housing and safety, but it's below standard for educational programs," Mesaros said.

The district includes the boroughs of Waynesboro and Mont Alto and Washington and Quincy townships. It had a population of 23,439 in 1960. By 2000 it will be 29,381, according to the report.

In 1992, there were 2,369 students in grades kindergarten through six. This year the numbers dropped to 2,232 and by 2007 it will drop to 2,120, according to the report.

The middle school, which houses grades seven and eight, had 729 students in 1992, 680 this year and 624 are projected for 2007, the report said.

The high school had 4,570 students in 1992 and 4,279 this year. By 2007 it is projected to have 3,967, the report said.

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