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Public hears plan for school renovation

December 14, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, PA.

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

The question of whether it's cheaper to build a new high school for the Waynesboro area than to renovate and add to the existing one was dispelled Tuesday night by the school district's architect.

A public hearing was held in the Waynesboro Middle School auditorium to hear questions and comments on a plan to spend $40 million to renovate Waynesboro Area Senior High School.

Mark A. Barnhardt, hired by the school board to study the condition of district school buildings, told the nearly 40 citizens present that it would cost $20 million more to build a new building than renovate the old one. That would not include the cost of land acquisition, Barnhardt said.

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The total cost of the board's renovation plan, including interest, would bring the total to about $57 million. It would require a tax increase of about 11 mills by the 2009-10 school year.

Schools Superintendent Barry Dallara said the board has already included 2 mills in its capital reserve budget for school construction.

The school board, on a 7-2 vote, recently settled on a plan that would also build the gym, auditorium and a ninth-grade academy in a new wing off the 40-year-old high school building.

The board wants to separate ninth-graders from the upper classes.

The existing auditorium would become a media center and library. The gym would be converted to classroom space.

When finished ,the complex would cover 272,000 square feet, about 100,000 square feet larger than the existing structure.

The first 45 minutes of the hearing were taken up by Barnhardt, who read through a 44-page detailed description of the project.

Waynesboro resident Amos Miller said he believed $40 million "is in the range of a new building which would serve our purpose endlessly."

Also on the minds of some taxpayers Tuesday was a change in an original plan that was to spend only $24 million of the $40 million on renovations and repairs to the high school and the other $16 million for similar work to Summitview Elementary and Waynesboro Middle School.

Several asked if another bond issue would follow to pay for work in those two schools.

Barnhardt said architectural studies showed that the high school needs more work than the other two, newer buildings.

The project, if it goes forward, will not add more classroom space since enrollment at the high school, except for a current "enrollment bubble" passing through the upper grades, has remained stable in recent years.

The renovated core of the building would be designed to handle any future classroom additions, Barnhardt said.

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