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Plans are unveiled for Chambersburg Academy

August 11, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Its top students perform well and there are alternative education programs for its most troublesome students, but Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services Ted Rabold wants a new program to address another segment of the high school population in the Chambersburg Area School District.

"The problem we're running into is with the kids in the middle," Rabold told the school board Wednesday. "We're just not doing something right."

Rabold unveiled plans for Chambersburg Academy, aimed at students who are at risk of dropping out, or perform below grade level, but otherwise are not disruptive and attend school regularly.

The academy would place some of these students in smaller classes of about 15 for remedial instruction in a flexible learning environment, Rabold said. Enrollment would be voluntary, based on student and parental choice, he said.

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These would not be students who require extensive special education support, but would have individualized learning plans, Rabold said. Students would be able to participate in high school extracurricular activities and receive a Chambersburg Area Senior High School diploma upon successfully completing the program, he said.

The program would, however, be based outside the overcrowded high school, Rabold said. The district would lease space in an unspecified building, possibly one being acquired by the Children's Aid Society, he said.

Manito, an alternative education program, also will be making a presentation to the administration, Superintendent Joseph Padasak said.

Rabold said the program would cost $65 per student per day, and could begin in January with 180 students. That would put the cost for this school year at $1,053,000, he said.

The program potentially could decrease the numbers of students who fall short of state benchmarks in standardized tests, Rabold said.

"I'm excited about it that you're willing to look at things in a different way," board member David Sciamanna said.

The high school is entering its third year on a state warning list for failing to meet all of the objectives for adequate yearly progress, Padasak said Thursday. By not achieving goals driven in part by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the Pennsylvania Department of Education could step in and mandate changes in the school's administration and programming, he said.

"That's usually not a good thing," Board President Craig Musser said.

"If we're going to do something, we need to do it quickly," Musser said. "We need to move these students faster from one point to another."

The proposal, which the board did not act on, also could have the benefit of reducing crowding in the high school. The district already has adopted a plan to have its career and technology center students spend the entire school year at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

The district has converted some shop areas into classrooms, and career and technology students, with the exception of this year's seniors, will take both their academic and shop courses at the center. More than 300 Chambersburg students are expected to be enrolled at the center this year.

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