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Architects suggest major renovations to aging school

December 12, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Major renovations may be in store for James Buchanan Middle School, according to an architect's report to the Tuscarora School Board this week.

Tuscarora Superintendent of Schools William Konzal said Wednesday the 50-year-old middle school needs some new classroom space and upgrades of its heating, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing systems.

The presentation was made by Mark Barnhardt and Harold Anderson from EI Associates, a school architectural firm in Harrisburg, Pa. The two met with teachers and administrators in researching the middle school's needs, Konzal said.

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Preliminary plans call for moving the school's main entrance from the front of the building to the rear.

Safety and convenience concerns are main factors for this project, he said.

School buses load and unload students in the rear of the school because there is ample turn-around space there. The school parking lot is in the back where teachers enter the building, Konzal said.

"Parents drop off their children in front of the building now and there is no easy way for them to turn around there," the superintendent said.

Four years ago, the school's aging furnace broke down, forcing students to be sent to other facilities in the area for classes for more than three weeks.

The sixth-graders took classes in a local Methodist church while the furnace was being repaired. Seventh-graders went to Mercersburg Academy and the eight-graders had their classes in James Buchanan High School.

A new furnace will be installed during the makeover, Konzal said.

New windows, lighting and a new security system are also part of plan, Konzal said.

The roof on the school, which houses about 700 students in grades six through eight, is still in good condition, he said.

"We don't need a new school. This building is sound and it's big enough with some added classroom space to take care of our needs," Konzal said.

Most recently ceilings in four classrooms had to be replaced, he said. Leaks caused the ceilings to sag.

"It seems like a real good plan," Tuscarora School Board President Jeffrey Spidel said. "I think it's possible, but I want to see how much it's going to cost before I commit to it."

Spidel was re-elected as the board president for 2003. Michael Rice was re-elected vice president of the board during its annual reorganization this week.

Spidel has been on the board for five years. This will be his third term as president.

Rice has been a member for seven years. He served as president for three years before Spidel took over. Spidel was vice president during Rice's turn at the helm.

"We just switched jobs," Spidel said.

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