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Officials backing off on plan to close Duffield school

February 24, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - By next month, the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Chambersburg Area School District is supposed to come up with a recommendation to close an elementary school before the 2005-06 school year, but committee members Wednesday night could not agree on an administration recommendation to close Duffield Elementary.

"I do not agree to close Duffield at this point ... It's too much shuffling of students," said school board member Fred Rice.

The Chambersburg School Board had directed the administration to come up with a plan to close an elementary school next year.

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The administration recommended closing Duffield and shifting students at several other elementary schools.

James Taylor, the assistant superintendent for elementary services, said that would entail moving Duffield students to Fayetteville Elementary and some Fayetteville students to the new Scotland school that opened in January.

Scotland, built to accommodate three classrooms for each grade, is operating two classes per grade this year, Taylor said. Some students also would be shifted from the overcrowded Hamilton Heights Elementary to Grandview Elementary, with some Grandview students going to Scotland, he said.

"I'd love to know who is going to take those 400 phone calls" from parents whose children would be assigned to different schools next year, board member Stanley Helman said.

Board member Thomas Orndorf agreed with Rice that there was no pressing reason to close Duffield and the committee had no alternate recommendation for closing a school.

"We are full. The district is busting at the seams," said David Snyder, president of the Chambersburg Area Education Association. He said keeping Duffield open until a new Fayetteville school is built would relieve pressure on class sizes.

Parents of Duffield students attending the meeting asked that the school remain open until the new Fayetteville school is built. District officials said that could be two or more years.

Another issue discussed by the committee was whether Fayetteville should have three, four or five classrooms for each grade.

"We need to know how big soon" to begin planning, said Richard Bender, the school district's director of facilities.

Snyder said teachers want the district to build schools with four classrooms in each grade. Orndorf said he recommend building Fayetteville with five classes per grade.

Orndorf said he was looking at it "from a practical standpoint" and that a larger school would not adversely affect education.

Helman said he was opposed to a five-deep school because it would have an adverse effect on students.

Bender said the district also must decide what to do at Guilford Hills Elementary, which has an aging heating system for its nearly 300 students.

Considering the housing boom in Guilford and Greene townships, Bender said the district might still need the school after Fayetteville is completed. The board must decide if it will spend money to modernize and expand the building, he said.

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