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School buildings the focus for board

July 13, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The Chambersburg School Board will hold a special meeting Wednesday at 4 p.m. to discuss future building plans for its elementary and secondary schools.

The work session meeting will include discussions about the two primary options for the district's high school as well as several different options for the district's 18 elementary schools, Superintendent Edwin Sponseller said Monday.

Early this year, the board appointed a 45-member task force to examine the facilities needs of the district and to provide feedback to Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, a Mechanicsburg, Pa., architectural firm. In May, the firm issued its recommendations.

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Sponseller said the board's decision will either be to build a new high school at a new location or to expand the existing high school. That second option could include having two grades at the existing school and the other two at another facility.

"We've been working very intensely for three or four months getting all the information we could gather," school board member David Sciamanna said of the task force. "I'm very hopeful Wednesday night is going to be a very productive session."

"We'll talk as long as something constructive is being said," Sponseller said.

He indicated the meeting could be a long one, with a break for refreshments scheduled for about 5:30 p.m.

"We'll probably go into executive session at the beginning to talk about some possible real estate purchases necessary, of course, to put some schools on," said Sponseller.

"In the last several years, we've been looking and there's been several proposals from real estate agents" for land purchases, Sponseller said. He said the executive session would allow newer board members to be brought up to date on the proposals.

"Hopefully, this will move us in a direction that we can agree on as a board on the building plan. Something we can start to present to the public," Board President Stanley Helman said.

While the district is deciding what schools need to be built or closed, it also must consider what effect school property tax reform legislation will have on its ability to fund new projects. Signed into Pennsylvania law last week, the bill could require districts to get voter approval for budgets exceeding an inflationary index set by the state.

"Tax reform will obviously have a bearing on what we do and how we do it," Sciamanna said.

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