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School Board votes to ask state to help pay for school repairs

February 16, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Plans for major renovations to Waynesboro Area Senior High School moved forward Tuesday when the Waynesboro School Board voted 7-2 to ask the state to reimburse the project, which could cost more than $23 million.

The board, with Leland Lemley and Todd Rock opposing, also asked the state to waive a rule that bans local school districts from seeking reimbursement for school construction within a 20-year period.

The Waynesboro School District is within 16 months of meeting that deadline on its high school.

Board President Larry Glenn said he voted for the resolution because "it's widely recognized that there are serious infrastructure issues in the high school."

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This initial request shows the state what will be needed to modernize the high school building, which is more than 40 years old, Glenn said. The board can't move forward until it learns how much, if any, reimbursement would be forthcoming, he said.

"The state also will decide on the scope of the project," Glenn said.

Board member Anna Bostwick-Foley said she voted for the resolution because repairs are badly needed and because the proposal adds a separate ninth-grade academy to the high school to house the freshman class to help those students make the transition from middle school to high school, she said.

Rock opposed the resolution, he said, because the board probably would spend the entire $23.5 million and more with possible cost overruns.

"I agree that the high school needs work," Rock said, "but if we vote on the $23 million I don't know if we'll have the discipline not to spend it all or more. The numbers don't show me that we need to spend that much money."

Lemley, in casting his opposing vote, echoed arguments he made at last week's board meeting where he said the projected housing growth in the district doesn't mean there will be a corresponding increase in the number of new students.

"In the last decade there were 1,000 new homes built and there are 150 to 200 fewer students in the schools today than there were at the beginning of the decade," he said. "We don't know if the growth (that is being projected) will increase enrollment or not."

Since December 2003, Washington Township rezoned nearly 1,000 acres of farmland for residential development with a potential of up to 2,000 new homes. Waynesboro is looking at two developments where the construction of nearly 700 homes is projected. Quincy Township, which just completed a major townshipwide sewer system, approved nearly $4 million in new housing construction.

Glenn said it will take the state two to three months to decide on Waynesboro's request for reimbursement and project approval.

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