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Public to get its say on high school issue

August 28, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Area School Board President D. Eugene Gayman said he will listen to what residents have to say about the possibility of building a new high school during tonight's public hearing before finalizing his own opinion on the subject.

The public will get the chance to comment before the nine-person board during a special meeting tonight at 7 p.m. in the School Administration Building, 435 Stanley Ave.

Gayman said it would be ideal if a clear public consensus emerges from the meeting.

"That will be nice, although I don't expect it will happen," he said. "It will be difficult because we know not everyone will be satisfied regardless of whatever way we go."

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Gayman said he was not leaning too strongly in any direction, so he is interested in hearing what the public has to say.

Discussion on reconfiguring the district's secondary schools began more than two years ago. Since then, the Board of School Directors has weighed multiple options, including building one new "mega school" to house students in grades 9 through 12 or constructing a second smaller school and renovating the existing high school to create a district with two high schools.

Earlier this month school board members spent hours going back and forth on the proposals after hearing reports on how much operating two schools would cost and potential ways to split the district.

While no decision was made, Gayman said the board is getting closer and he expects one will be made in the next few months.

The Parent Advisory Council asked the board in July to make a decision by October, citing the already lengthy process and the impact the overcrowding at the high school was having on students.

Once a decision is made it will take two years of planning before construction can proceed. Construction will take another two to four years, officials have estimated.

Options the board discussed earlier this month include:

  • Two high schools that house grades nine to 12. That would require building a new high school north of town for about $48 million and renovating the existing high school for about $39 million.

  • One high school for grades 10 to 12 at the existing building and locating ninth-graders at the middle school. Renovating Chambersburg Area Senior High School would be necessary and would cost about $39 million, and it would cost about $35 million to build another middle school that would split the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades with J. Frank Faust Junior High School.

  • Build one "mega high school" for grades nine through 12 that would house up to 3,000 students and cost about $86 million.

  • Renovate the existing high school and replace the roof, windows, bathrooms, electrical system, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. One company has given an estimate of $14 million for the project and said it could be completed over the next two years.

  • Build an addition to house a library and media center that could be open to the public and would free up space in the main building.

  • Construct a ninth-grade building on land the district owns across McKinley Avenue from the high school.

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