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Chambersburg School Board narrows list of firms for school design project

November 06, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Three architectural firms were back before the Chambersburg School Board Tuesday night, not so much selling designs for an expanded high school, but their ability to adapt to the district's needs.

"We're not really buying a design. We're buying a firm," said School Board President Stanley Helman. "The designs are important only in seeing what they can do."

The board intends to hire a firm to study the feasibility of a ninth- through 12th-grade campus on the site of the existing school and district-owned property across McKinley Street, a total of about 37 acres.

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Last month, five firms made presentations, highlighting their experience and ideas on accomplishing the goal. Still in the running are EI Associates of Harrisburg, Pa.; Crabtree, Rohrbaugh Associates of Mechanicsburg, Pa.; and The Ray Group of Lancaster, Pa.

Each was asked to address the same questions, including how the site would accommodate the addition of ninth-graders, handle increased spectator attendance for school events and keep the building open for classes during construction.

The administration also asked how the architects would accommodate the career pathways program in the areas of fine arts, business and technology, industry and engineering and health and human services.

"We're talking about a building that's going to be around for 40 or 50 years. We don't know what education is going to look like in 10 years," said Richard Hupper, the educational consultant for Crabtree, Rohrbaugh. Any design, he said, has to have built-in flexibility.

Michael Patton, president of The Ray Group, said his firm could help the district define priorities, reach community consensus and design a facility to meet those goals.

"We're wrapping buildings around educational philosophy," he said.

The district has yet to decide if a school on the existing campus will fit that philosophy. Previously discussed options include splitting the high school grades between two buildings, or a new school at a different site.

The discussion of consensus-building and educational philosophy pleased Dave Sciamanna, one of three new board members who will be sworn in next month.

"What the board heard tonight is you've got to know what you want before you design it," he said.

The discussion of consensus-building and educational philosophy pleased Dave Sciamanna, one of three new board members who will be sworn in next month.

"What the board heard tonight is you've got to know what you want before you design it," he said.

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