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2,700 students back to the books in Tuscarora

September 09, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - They went back a week late, but the 2,700 students in the Tuscarora School District had little to fret about Thursday even if three of their schools were still in the midst of major construction projects.

"We're good," said Rick Kerr, business manager for the district. "It was a nice opening in spite of all that."

The district is spending about $20 million on renovations to James Buchanan Middle School and Montgomery and Mountainview elementary schools.

A decision was made in late August to move the scheduled opening of the 2005-06 school year from Aug. 29 up to Thursday to give teachers, custodians and administrators time to get things ready.

The contractors were scheduled to have their summer work done Aug. 25. That left only four days to get things ready, Kerr said.

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The $12 million in renovations and additions to the middle school will increase the size of the building by 30 percent.

The district is spending $4 million each on the elementary schools.

In those schools, the furniture was moved into trailers during the summer to make room for the contractors. It all had to be brought back in and set up for Thursday.

"The teachers and maintenance guys worked together and got it done," Kerr said.

Construction on all three schools will continue into the fall, but the students and classes will be walled off from the work.

"It went wonderfully," Schools Superintendent Thomas Stapleford said. "That's a credit to the staff. The custodians worked hard and the faculty took things in stride. The buildings looked good."

The next hurdle will be for the school board to resume talks with the teachers, who have been working without a contract since June 2004.

The next negotiation session will be held Sept. 20, Stapleford said.

"We're making progress," he said.

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