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Chambersburg School Board president resigns

November 23, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg School Board President Craig Musser said Wednesday he will resign from the board at its Dec. 6 meeting.

"I need to make my professional and my family life more of a priority," Musser said.

Although he has had disagreements with the majority of the board over issues such as the building program and teachers' contract, Musser, 42, said he is pleased with the direction in which the sprawling district is moving.

"It may not be exactly what I want, but it's OK. I just want it to move forward," he said. "We got a building program in place and the funding for it and the new teachers' contract."

Musser said he might have resigned earlier, but wanted the new contract in place before doing so.

"That was one of the reasons I stayed as long as I did," Musser said. "Otherwise, it would have happened in the summer."

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Musser is in his seventh year on the board and second year as president. His second four-year term would have expired at the end of 2007.

He worked for Nitterhouse Concrete Products in Chambersburg until about a year ago, when he took a position with Variform Inc., a vinyl siding manufacturer in Martinsburg, W.Va.

"I'm sorry that he is leaving. He's been very valuable," Board Vice President Renee Sharpe said. "We moved off the dime during his leadership."

"He was so good at analysis ... He spent long hours putting figures together," Sharpe said.

During the past two years, the board incurred $116 million in debt to finance the construction of new schools, although the plan has evolved during that time. The resolution to incur the debt called for the district to build a new high school for 2,800 students and two elementary schools.

Construction of a new Fayetteville Elementary School is under way, and the planning process has begun for a new U.L. Gordy Elementary School. The district nearly has completed a new wing on Hamilton Heights Elementary School to deal with a growing student population.

Earlier this year, however, the board voted 5-4 to spend up to $50 million to renovate and expand Chambersburg Area Senior High School, and $40 million for a career and technology program.

A final decision on what form that career and technology program will take has not been made. Musser said he supported a plan to renovate the high school and build a comprehensive career center on land the district purchased in Greenvillage, Pa. Each building would have held about 1,500 students, he said.

"It's always been my philosophy that if you have a set amount of money coming in ... not to spend it faster than it's coming in the door," Musser said of his vote against the teachers' contract. With 4.5 percent salary increases in each of the first three years, he said it could result in taxes having to be raised just to pay the teachers.

"I'd say the biggest disappointment is to have the high school on the watch list," Musser said, referring to the school's failure to meet average yearly progress goals for academic achievement set by federal No Child Left Behind Act regulations.

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