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Board expands scope of school district study

December 04, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Area School District has a new school board and it took a new direction Wednesday night, voting to expand the scope of a feasibility study beyond what to do about the high school.

New board members Lori Leedy, Renee Sharpe and David Sciamanna joined Robert Helman, Thomas Orndorf and Craig Musser in approving a resolution calling for the administration to negotiate a contract "for a feasibility study with appropriate architects and educational consultants that includes a complete, comprehensive review" of the educational and building needs of all grades.

Board President Stanley Helman and members Eugene Gayman and Fred Rice voted against the motion.

Robert Helman, who proposed the motion, said expanding the high school to include ninth-graders will mean sixth through eighth grades would be split between Chambersburg Area Middle School and Faust Junior High School.

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"I don't think those schools are equal," said Helman.

Instead of spending $10 million or more to improve the middle school, he believes it could become a large elementary school serving the borough and Guilford Township.

The motion also called for the creation of a task force to include the full board and representatives of the administration, teachers, parents, students and business and community leaders.

The study shall be completed in six months and result in a "recommended action plan that can be used to guide our future educational and building decisions."

"I think time is of the essence ... I'm not prepared to wait a month to have a meeting," Sciamanna said when it was suggested the board schedule a work session in January to go over details of the motion. He said the board should meet within a matter of days to begin discussing the makeup of the task force of 30 to 35 members.

"If we're going to spend $150 million, it seems to me prudent to spend six months" to reach a consensus for what the district wants to accomplish over a period of 20 or more years, Sharpe said.

"The obvious consequence of this motion would be to delay further" reaching any agreement, Gayman said. Rice said the board was criticized six months ago for taking too much time to decide.

Stanley Helman said there has been plenty of opportunity in the process for the community to voice its views on the district's future.

In March the board voted narrowly to spend up to $50,000 for a feasibility study to look at expanding the high school at its present site. Last month the board named Crabtree, Rohrbaugh Associates of Mechanicsburg, Pa., as its top choice for the architectural firm to do the study.

"I think the administration needs more direction on the depth of the study being suggested," Superintendent Edwin Sponseller said after the meeting. He said a typical feasibility study, even for one building, looks at an entire district, but that may not be "in depth enough to satisfy the board."

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