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Student population, water woes concern Pa. officials

November 25, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A growing student population in the Chambersburg area and water problems in the townships west of the borough are among the challenges of growth discussed Wednesday by the Franklin County Council of Governments.

"It's important for us to know what's going on out there and where the pockets of growth are," Chambersburg Area School District Superintendent Edwin Sponseller said.

The student population of the district grew 3 percent this year to about 8,200, the largest increase he could recall in his 24 years as superintendent, he said.

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In the early 1970s, Sponseller said, the student population peaked at more than 10,000, but declined as the baby boom waned. Now, the demographic pattern has reversed and "it will continue to present problems for us," he said.

"In my tenure, I've never seen growth like this," said Sponseller. He said the school system is already at maximum capacity.

The new Scotland Elementary School will open after Christmas, but Sponseller said that school, with three classrooms for each grade, will be up to capacity by the 2005-06 school year.

The school board in September approved a debt resolution to spend up to $116 million for a new high school and two elementary schools, but Sponseller said the district needs information from the municipalities to determine where the greatest need is for the new schools.

"We're probably the fastest growing residential area in the Chambersburg Area School District," said Greene Township Supervisor Rob Kauffman. He said that will continue, with the sale of a farm that will become a housing development with 600 or more units. Another development with more than 60 units is planned off Pa. 997, he said.

County Planning Office Director Phil Tarquino said his office could provide information on growth patterns after the beginning of the year. County Commissioner Bob Thomas suggested the municipalities within the Chambersburg school district meet to discuss those concerns beginning in January.

Because of too much rain, there is a shortage of treated water in the areas of Hamilton, St. Thomas and Peters townships served by the Bear Valley Joint Authority, according to Hamilton Township Supervisor Mike Kessinger.

Kessinger told the council that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the authority not to issue connection permits for building lots unless a building permit was issued prior to Nov. 15.

Heavy rains have created problems with sediment in the water system, Kessinger said. The authority treatment plant has a capacity of about 500,000 gallons a day, Manager Robert John said earlier this year.

Kessinger said plans are to expand treatment capacity to 1.5 million gallons a day, but the project will take at least 18 months to complete.

Chambersburg Water and Sewer Superintendent Carl Rundquist said the borough has a long-term agreement to sell up to 820,000 gallons a day to Bear Valley, but there is a temporary agreement through the end of this year to sell up to 1 million gallons a day.

Kessinger said his township will still issue building permits for properties that meet the minimum lot size for wells.

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