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Officials to pay $50,000 for study

March 14, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Area Board of School Directors narrowly approved spending up to $50,000 to further study how to achieve a comprehensive high school campus at the current site.

By a 5-4 vote Wednesday, the board approved releasing the funds to pay professionals to investigate the possibility of redesigning the present high school property and the neighboring Stanley Avenue property into a unified campus for grades 9 through 12.

Board members Penny Stoner, Bill Fosnot, Robert Helman, Tom Orndorf and Eugene Gayman supported the motion. Stanley Helman, Michael Finucane, Craig Musser and Fred Rice opposed funding another study.

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By the same vote last month, the board approved the concept of a 9 through 12 campus on the current high school site as the next logical step in a more than two-year discussion on a secondary building plan. The plan is aimed at relieving overcrowding while grouping the ninth-graders with the rest of the high school.

Business Manager Rick Vensel said the district staff will begin studying the concept, but said it might become necessary along the way to hire outside professionals when it comes to planning around the Borough of Chambersburg's zoning and municipal laws.

"We need to review issues like capacity, how students should be organized to achieve optimum student management. Height, parking and setbacks will have to be taken into consideration," Vensel said.

Wednesday's vote also requires the administration to report back to the school board at its July meeting with progress on the study.

Superintendent Ed Sponseller said he and other school officials have met at least twice with Borough Manager Eric Oyer about the possibility of redesigning the campus, and from those discussions he said he realized school officials will need input from engineers and architects in order to move forward and comply with borough building codes.

Some board members and parents felt the study was unnecessary.

"I don't think we need to spend $50,000 to determine we can build a 9-10 building here. Of course you can. Ten designers will have 10 ideas," Finucane said.

Parent Kathy McCleary said if the district has $50,000 to spare for another study, it should be able to afford $500 for one computer for the fifth-graders at Grandview Elementary School, whom she said don't have computers.

"We're just running around fixing potholes. Eventually we'll have to repave the road," she said of the plan to renovate the high school.

The board also voted 8-1 Wednesday to allow the staff to begin the planning process to replace both the U.L. Gordy and Mary B. Sharpe elementary schools with buildings large enough to accommodate two classrooms of each grade level at their present sites.

Only Fosnot objected to the proposal.

The motion also authorizes the administration to begin investigating putting a "Scotland-type" school in the Fayetteville, Pa., area. A new Scotland Elementary School will be under construction this year.

Vensel said there is no timetable for new elementary school plans.

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