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School board looks ahead after busy 2005

December 08, 2005|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Two new members were sworn in, but the Chambersburg School Board remains under the same management as Board President Craig Musser and Vice President Renee Sharpe were re-elected unanimously at the annual reorganization meeting.

Newly elected Paul Ambrose in Region One and Norman Blowers in Region Six were sworn in as were re-elected board members Fred Rice in Region Three and Thomas Orndorf in Region Four. Ambrose defeated a write-in campaign by incumbent Robert Helman in the Nov. 8 election and Blowers was unopposed in the election to succeed the retiring D. Eugene Gayman.

Superintendent Edwin Sponseller said the board had done much in the past year, including the selection of Windber (Pa.) Area School District Superintendent Joseph O. Padasak Jr. to succeed him when he retires June 30.

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Sponseller also said that in the past year the district opened a new Scotland Elementary School and the board had reached decisions on building a new Fayetteville Elementary, a new U.L. Gordy and expansion of Hamilton Heights from three to four classrooms in each grade. The board must, however, decide by next month whether Gordy will have three or four classrooms per grade, he said.

The board also decided earlier this year to renovate Trojan Stadium, Sponseller said.

The district also plans a new high school and agreed last week to buy 78 acres in Greene Township for secondary school expansion, Sponseller said. The board still must decide "in the very near future" whether it will have one high school for grades nine through 12, two smaller nine through 12 schools, or split the grades between two buildings, he said.

The board has voted to build a high school for approximately 2,800 students, but a recent Pennsylvania Economy League study of the district's demographics predicts student enrollment will approach 10,000 by 2015, with 3,100 high school-age students, Sponseller said.

The district began this year with 8,411 students, 162 more than at the end of the 2004-05 school year, he said.

"It's going to be a very interesting ride as you will soon find out," Musser told Ambrose and Blowers.

"Catch your breath at Christmas and come back in full swing," Musser advised the board members, adding "We exit 2005 having accomplished a fair amount."

The previous board was often split on issues involving the building program, but Ambrose downplayed talk about "shifts of power."

Ambrose said he expects board members will work together, but would not speculate on what direction it will take "when it comes to some of the more significant votes."

"Building capacity for growth" is one of his top issues, Blowers said. While Blowers said he has an opinion on the high school issue, he also has many questions that need answering before he makes up his mind.

The contract with the Chambersburg Area Education Association expires June 30 and Sponseller said contract negotiations with teachers are set to begin in January.

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