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Tight funding prevents expansion, construction

August 08, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A tight budget this year will keep the Chambersburg Area School District from expanding programs or adding construction projects, but the district still intends to forge ahead with plans already in the works.

The $62.2 million budget approved in June trimmed a few staff and faculty positions but generally keeps programming where it was at the start of the last school year.

"There is very little new. We are only able to maintain programs that existed," Superintendent Ed Sponseller said.

Looking down the road, future budgets will be even tighter as the district is required to pay even more into the state retirement fund and plans proceed to renovate or build a new high school, school officials have said.

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Sponseller said the district is looking forward to finally awarding contracts on a new Scotland Elementary School this winter.

Bids received earlier this year were too high, and the architects reworked some of the design in an effort to lower the project costs.

Business Manger Rick Vensel said he hopes construction can begin in the spring, with the new school ready for occupancy in the fall of 2004.

The other major project includes a decision on whether the district wants to build a new "mega" high school or turn into a two-high-school-system.

The Board of School Directors ultimately will make the decision, but there is no timeline, Sponseller said.

Once a decision is made, it will take two years of planning before construction can proceed, which will take another two to four years, Vensel said.

A new high school could cost more than $80 million.

Sponseller said the district is in good shape for the first day of school, Aug. 26, with most vacancies filled, and enrollment holding steady at around 7,900 students.

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