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Board delays decision on Chambersburg school work

March 07, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After voting last week to expand an existing elementary school, increase the size of another it plans to build and hold hearings to close three smaller schools, the Chambersburg School Board tabled action on the future of U.L. Gordy Elementary.

The board voted to postpone a decision on the school's future until its April meeting to allow further discussions with the borough of Chambersburg and Wilson College on possible sites for a new school, according to Superintendent Edwin Sponseller.

Sponseller said Thursday that the district is in discussions with the borough about buying, leasing or swapping land next to Gordy Elementary to create a site large enough for a school with three classrooms for each grade.

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The district also has had discussions with Wilson College officials about a three-deep elementary on campus, Sponseller said. That would have the advantages of being on a campus that has an education department, and could provide interns and student teachers, he said.

The site, where the college now has its field hockey facility, has disadvantages, according to Sponseller. He said it might not have adequate space to allow for buses and parents to drop off and pick up students.

Board President Craig Musser said there are questions about adequate playground space.

Wednesday night the board voted 5-4 against $2.3 million in improvements to Guilford Hills Elementary.

Board members David Sciamanna, Renee Sharpe, Robert Helman, Lori Leery and Thomas Orndorf voted against spending the money to replace the heating system, add air conditioning and replace the windows. Musser and board members Stanley Helman, Fred Rice and Eugene Gayman voted for the project.

Musser said the issue came down to whether the district should spend that much money on a school it may vote to close in a few years.

Sponseller said the decisions Wednesday to expand Hamilton Heights Elementary and build a larger Fayetteville Elementary, along with the new Scotland Elementary, could mean there is adequate classroom space to accommodate growth in that part of the district.

If the board decides Scotland should be enlarged as well, Sponseller said it could decide to close Guilford Hills in the future.

Even without $2.3 million in upgrades, Musser said the board likely will have to spend money on Guilford Hills this year because its heating system requires frequent repairs.

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