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Board makes move on school decision

September 12, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg school board members approved a motion Wednesday that supports renovating certain systems in the existing high school while considering plans for a second school.

Board member Stanley Helman made the motion at the start of a discussion on how to reconfigure the secondary schools that continued until late Wednesday.

His motion supported signing a contract to renovate some of the major systems in the existing building, aligning schedules at the junior high so ninth-graders could take classes at the senior high, considering adding a library and media center to Chambersburg Area Senior High School and making plans for a second school when enrollments show a need for it.

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Though discussion has raged for two years over whether the district should build one large school for grades nine through 12 or split the district into two high schools, everyone agrees the existing building is in dire need of renovation.

Helman first suggested last month hiring a firm to replace the roof, windows, bathrooms, electrical system, heating, ventilation and air conditioning at the school. One company has already given an estimate of $14 million for the project and said it could be completed over the next two years.

That move, which does not lock the board into a decision about when and where a new school would be built, seemed to appeal to the board, which passed the motion 7-2.

In addition to Helman, board members Bill Fosnot, Robert Helman, Craig Musser, Fred Rice, Eugene Gayman and Penny Stoner voted in favor of the motion. Michael Finucane and Thomas Orndorf voted against it.

"I think our enrollment projections are going to quickly become outdated. I think we will quickly feel the pressure and will need another building to house students," Stanley Helman said.

He said he would like to see two nine to 12 high schools in the district, or at the very least, a nine and 10 building and an 11 and 12 building.

Finucane also supports two high schools, but prior to the vote he said he would like to see the district do something similar to what the Downingtown, Pa., district is doing. That district built a second school, moved the students into it and is finishing extensive renovations on the existing school before dividing the district into two high schools.

Finucane said everything he's read on school size indicates smaller is better, and he was not in favor of adding on to the current school.

"You just build the albatross bigger," he said.

Stoner said she thought the motion would allow for future planning.

"I think it would leave our options open," she said.

Robert Helman said he strongly supports two high schools because he feels the region he represents, parts of Greene, Lurgan and Letterkenny townships, are too far from the current school.

Gayman had said he didn't like the motion earlier in the evening and that he favored one high school. But he also said he was okay with a nine and 10 school and an 11 and 12 building.

"I think a Chambersburg High School diploma is something to be treasured. I don't think there is as much value to a north or south diploma." he said.

Orndorf said he put a lot of weight on what teachers had to say and supported their idea of a single-school campus setting.

"One school. One site. Do it right," he said.

Stanley Helman said he does not intend his motion to delay any action on a new building.

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