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School board faces deadline on building projects

January 05, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg School Board will have to decide soon whether a new U.L. Gordy Elementary School will have three or four classrooms per grade if the project is to remain on schedule.

"We certainly need to move toward a four-deep in that area," Catherine Dusman, the assistant superintendent for Elementary Services told the Buildings and Grounds Committee Wednesday. Building a smaller school, she said, would cause "a ripple effect in the rest of the district," forcing other schools to take in more students.

The schedule now calls for the project to go out for bids in March and for the school to be built and ready to open by December 2007, according to Richard Bender, the director of Buildings and Grounds.

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The committee will recommend to the full board next week that Gordy have four classrooms per grade, Bender said.

U.L. Gordy is at 401 Miller St. in Chambersburg.

The committee also will ask the board to consider an energy performance contract for Guilford Hills Elementary that will replace the aging heating system and add air-conditioning. Eugene Dassing, a business development manager with Chevron Energy Solutions, told the committee that would cost about $2.5 million.

Guilford Hills Elementary is at 2105 Lincoln Way East in Guilford Township.

The other options would be to replace the heating system along with some other improvements for $1.8 million, or a more extensive project that would include new heating and air-conditioning along with a new roof and energy efficient windows for approximately $3.9 million.

Bender said a new heating system is the most pressing concern, because the pipes leak and it frequently has to be shut down for repairs. The district will not be able to consider closing the school for at least eight years because of the growing student population in the area, Bender said.

With the $3.9 million in improvements, Bender said the practical life of the building would be extended several decades, but that does not address whether the school should be expanded in the future, or abandoned. The energy performance contract, if approved, could be completed over the summer, he said.

"I don't think this is a school we want to walk away from in the future," board member Fred Rice said, citing the likelihood of new housing developments being built nearby.

The idea of temporarily reopening the old Scotland Elementary School to ease crowding at other area schools next year has been set aside. Business Manager Rick Vensel said an expansion of Hamilton Heights Elementary School, 1589 Johnson Road in Hamilton Township, can go out for bids in March and be completed by December of this year.

Dusman said music, art and other special subject classes could be used at the beginning of the school year with students moving into the new construction once it is completed.

The new Fayetteville Elementary School project could also be ready to go out for bids in March, Bender said. Construction of that school, with four classes in each grade, is scheduled to be completed in August 2007.

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