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School board weighs more building options

February 13, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Area Board of School Directors on Wednesday reaffirmed its position that the district should have separate intermediate and senior high schools, but narrowly defeated a motion that would put those buildings on the land the district already owns.

The board supported 7-to-2 the plan it endorsed in November to continue as one high school with the 11th- and 12th-graders in the current high school and the ninth- and 10th-graders in a new building at a location to be determined. Only board members Robert Helman and Michael Finucane opposed the position.

The latest in more than two years of discussions then centered on a motion by board member Eugene Gayman to construct a ninth- and 10th-grade facility on the roughly 17 acres the district owns along Stanley Avenue, which is across from the existing high school and adjacent to the school administration building.

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"My major concern with the proposal is to put all these students in one location," Board President Stanley Helman said.

Currently only the 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders attend Chambersburg Area Senior High School. Bringing the ninth-graders to the campus would add about 700 students.

Superintendent Ed Sponseller has said if the board votes to have two buildings, they should be located at least a mile apart to minimize disciplinary problems.

Board member Fred Rice said the acreage on Stanley Avenue was not sufficient to accommodate a new building.

"It doesn't plan for the future at all," he said, referring to an anticipated enrollment increase in the next decade.

Board member Michael Finucane agreed.

"We've talked about thinking for the future, thinking big, and what we come up with is this. What it comes down to is this is cheap," he said.

Others thought it was a smart solution to a debate that began in 2000 when the board began studying ways to relieve overcrowding in the secondary schools while making the ninth-graders part of the high school.

"I think a tight-knit high school is grades nine to 12. I don't think we can get tight-knit when separated by miles," said board member Tom Orndorf said.

Board member Bill Fosnot said he was not sold on putting the new building across the street, but he thought it could go adjacent to the existing high school to provide for easier interaction between the two facilities. He said the parking lot could be relocated onto the Stanley Avenue property.

After a lengthy debate, the board defeated Gayman's motion by one vote.

Rice, Finucane, Carl Musser, Stanley Helman and Robert Helman opposed putting a new building on the district's property. Gayman, Orndorf, Fosnot and Penny Stoner supported it.

Discussion was still continuing late Wednesday as to how the board would proceed with a secondary building plan.

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