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New president tapped for Chambersburg School Board

December 02, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg School Board Wednesday night changed leadership, selecting Craig Musser to succeed Stanley Helman as board president at its annual reorganization meeting.

Musser, a member of the board for five years and vice president for the past year, replaces Helman, who had been president the past two years. On a board that has been sharply divided over issues, including plans for a new high school and realignment of elementary schools, Musser has often provided the deciding vote in the past year.

"I'm disappointed, but certainly not devastated," Helman, a member of the board for nine years, said after the meeting. "I think Craig will do a fine job. I enjoyed working with him as vice president."

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The vote was 6-3 for Musser over Helman.

Musser was nominated by Helman's brother, board member Robert Helman. Board members David Sciamanna, Renee Sharpe, Thomas Orndorf and Lori Leedy also voted for Musser. Stanley Helman was joined by Eugene Gayman and Fred Rice in voting for his re-election.

Sharpe was elected vice president over Stanley Helman on a 5-4 vote.

Musser, the human resources manager for Nitterhouse Concrete Products, said the board faces a number of serious issues next year, including whether to opt in to Act 72, Pennsylvania's school property tax reform law. Districts have to decide by May if they will raise earned income taxes in exchange for a share of future slot machine revenues that would be used to lower property taxes, according to the law.

The board also must solidify plans to spend up to $116 million for a new high school and two new elementary schools, he said. The board voted Sept. 1 to incur the debt to finance the projects.

Next year's budget also will be crucial, he said, because future budget increases will be based on it if the district participates in Act 72.

Regarding the $116 million school building program, the board voted 5-4 to reaffirm that Sept. 1 vote. Jan Sulcove, the attorney for the school district, advised the board to vote again on the measure, which a group of district residents is challenging in court.

The suit alleges the board violated the state's Sunshine Act at an Aug. 25 meeting during which it authorized its bond counsel to prepare the debt resolution for a vote on Sept. 1. The suit claims the special meeting was not advertised in the local newspaper as required by law.

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