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Pa. school problems worsen

November 04, 1999|By DON AINES

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A meeting to update parents on class plans for students from the closed James Buchanan Middle School had to be moved Thursday night when the power went out at James Buchanan High School.

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"We are looking at it very positively at this point," Tuscarora Schools Superintendent William T. Konzal said Thursday night. He said an Allegheny Power crew was coming in to find out what caused the outage.

"There was kind of an explosive sound outside" the school when the power went out, Konzal said. There was no damage to the building, but it was not known whether the problem was a blown transformer or other type of malfunction.

Konzal said he learned of the outage shortly before 6 p.m.

The meeting with the middle school parents was to have been at 6:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria, but was moved to Mercersburg Elementary School, Konzal said. The meeting was to answer questions about how middle school classes will be handled while it the school is closed for repairs.

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The line burst sometime before school was to open Monday. The school could be closed for two weeks while repairs are made to the heating system and eight classrooms. Work will include the removal of ruined floor tiles containing asbestos.

If power isn't restored overnight, Konzal said he would have to cancel both high school and middle school classes today. The plan for middle school students included sending eighth-graders to the high school, seventh-graders to Mercersburg Academy and sixth-graders to the First United Methodist Church Faith and Fellowship Center.

Konzal, who became superintendent this year, said he would know early today if power could be restored. If not, he would call radio and television stations to get the word out to parents.

Thursday's power outage at the high school also forced cancellation of the annual Holocaust Symposium at 7 p.m. The school had auxiliary power, but Konzal said "You just can't take a chance when you're running on a generator that could go out any minute."

The symposium was to feature Clara Isaacman, who spent 2 1/2 years hiding from the Nazis in Belgium during World War II, and Sibylle Niemoller-von Sell, an anti-Nazi German active in the underground movement to save Jews.

Niemoller-von Sell's cousin was shot for participating in the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1940.

English teacher Martina Fegan said high school students heard Isaacman speak Thursday afternoon, but the evening meeting was expected to draw a large crowd, including a group from Washington, D.C.

"It's just sad the community didn't get the benefit of hearing them," she said.

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