Chambersburg area readies facilities as school year nears

August 06, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Construction began last month on two elementary school projects, another school is receiving a major upgrade and Trojan Stadium is nearing completion as the beginning of the new school year approaches for the Chambersburg Area School District.

Crews began site work in late July on the new Fayetteville Elementary School, taking down trees and brush in preparation for removing topsoil this week, said Richard Bender, the district's buildings and grounds director.

The $14 million project, being built adjacent to the existing school on donated land, is on an accelerated 12-month schedule, and is expected to open in time for the beginning of the 2007-08 school year.

The 82,000-square-foot school, with four classrooms for each grade, is replacing a school with two classrooms per grade that was built in 1922 and expanded several times, the last in 1964, Bender said. It will serve one of the fastest-growing parts of the district, and its completion likely will result in the closing of Duffield Elementary School, which was built in the 1930s and has one classroom per grade.


A two-phase expansion of Hamilton Heights Elementary School also began in July. The first phase will result in the enlargement of three existing classrooms, raising the number of kindergarten classes from two to four and adding another computer lab, Bender said.

The first phase will be completed by the opening of school on Aug. 28, he said.

The second phase of the approximately $3 million project will add nine new classrooms, making the school four-deep in all grades when finished. The total expansion is 20,000 square feet, and the new wing will open in January 2007, Bender said.

Guilford Hills Elementary School is undergoing a $2.4 million upgrade to replace an aging and often broken heating system and add air conditioning. Bender said plans to replace the windows and the roof at the school were cut from the project, but Guilford Hills will receive new lighting, technology upgrades, a new office, plumbing fixtures and water conservation systems.

The district is adding 60 interior and exterior surveillance cameras and an intrusion alarm system at Chambersburg Area Middle School, Bender said. The school also will have its east side roof replaced, and carpeting replaced with tile, a project that began last summer in the school's west wing.

Front door automatic locking systems and surveillance cameras for the main entrances of several elementary schools were approved recently by the school board.

Another district project is at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, where five shops are being converted to nine classrooms, which will serve as academic space for the more than 300 Chambersburg Area Senior High School students expected to be enrolled at the center this year.

The district was forced to abandon its half-day attendance policy at the center by a vote of the center's Joint Operating Committee. Instead of returning to the old policy of having the career and technology students attend one semester at the center and one at their home school, Chambersburg has opted to have its students attend all-day, all-year in 2006-07.

For one semester, half the students will attend shop classes, while the others take academic courses at the center, with the students switching places in the second semester, although this year's seniors will spend one semester at the high school.

The most visible district project is the rebuilding of Trojan Stadium at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.

"We lost about two weeks in June ... but the contractors are geared up to catch up," Bender said.

The rain delay from June's downpours should not interfere with plans to have the 7,200-seat stadium reopen in time for its first scheduled event, a Sept. 2 soccer game, Bender said.

The stadium was closed in March 2005 for safety reasons, and after more than $600,000 was spent to tear down one set of bleachers and refurbish another, the stadium hosted two football games last fall.

The district awarded $6.1 million in construction contracts, and the work began this spring on the stadium, which will have artificial turf, an eight-lane track, new home stands, new concession stands and restrooms, and new lighting among its improvements. Bender said the district has trimmed about $300,000 from the contract price.

"It's going to be a beautiful thing, no doubt about it," Bender said.

Beth Luka of the Chambersburg Area School District Foundation told the school board in July that about $251,000 had been raised from the sale of sponsorships, engraved pavers and bricks, a wall of fame, donations and other fundraising efforts.

"It's paid for," Bender said, pointing to the stadium's $92,000 scoreboard.

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