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School board to vote on building proposal

February 09, 2005|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A vote on whether to move forward with a plan for renovation work and possible expansion to Waynesboro Area Senior High School will be taken next week by the Waynesboro School Board.

The measure, if passed at the board's Feb. 15 meeting, would ask the state to reimburse a share of $23.5 million for renovations at the high school and possibly include the addition of a ninth-grade academy to the building.

School board members in November said they favored such a plan because it would help students with the transition from middle school to high school.

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The high school currently holds grades nine through 12, but freshmen classes are spread throughout the building. They would be separated from the rest of the grades in an academy designation.

Construction of a ninth-grade academy, a new, more secure main entrance and improved facilities for the cafeteria and band room could be included in the project, according to preliminary proposals.

Adding pressure to any new construction decision is the rezoning of nearly 1,000 acres of farmland in Washington Township for residential development for up to 2,000 homes. In addition, projects are working their way through the permit process in the Borough of Waynesboro for more than 700 new homes.

Last year, nearly $4 million in new residential housing was approved in Quincy Township.

All three jurisdictions, along with Mont Alto Borough, make up the Waynesboro Area School District.

Included in the $23.5 million are $6 million for new construction and $13 million for high school renovations, according to Mark S. Barnhardt of EI Associates, the board's Harrisburg, Pa., architect.

Last August, the board voted to put the district in a position to borrow up to $40 million for repair and expansion of school buildings.

While that vote did not commit the district to spend all of the money, it was taken in time to avoid a new state law that would have put such an action before voters in a referendum.

Board member Leland Lemley on Tuesday cautioned the board to move slower on any new construction. He said he doesn't believe the district will see many new students in spite of the projected housing starts on the books in the nearby municipalities.

"There are from 150 to 200 fewer students in the high school now then there were in 1989," he said. He said he sees no need to add more classroom space at this time.

"You do what you have to do when you have to do it," he said.

Lemley used a 20-year-old Chevrolet with low miles as a metaphor for his argument, saying while it might need $1,000 in repairs that was still a long way from spending $100,000 on a new Cadillac. Either vehicle will do what is required of it, he said.

He also pointed out that Franklin County is raising taxes as are the local municipalities. In addition, he said utility companies are raising rates. Municipalities are increasing fees, including those paid for rezoning and land development plans.

Barnhardt said the board could send out bids on whatever projects it chooses by the end of the year provided all state requirements are met. The state approves reimbursements for local school construction projects, he said.

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