Board weighs pricey options for high school expansion project

December 14, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The price tag for renovating and expanding the 50-year-old Chambersburg Area Senior High School will likely fall between $50 million and $81 million, a decision the Chambersburg School Board began to wrestle with Wednesday night as they examined the options.

"Our goal tonight is hopefully to get you begging to make a decision," Associate Principal Christine Henn told the board at the beginning of a presentation by architect Paul Taylor of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates.

The board earlier this year voted 5-4 in favor of a secondary reconfiguration that included up to $50 million to renovate the high school and $40 million for a career and technology program. Neither aspect of the program has yet been carved in stone and an initial estimate on expanding the high school to include grades nine through 12 and a number of additional improvements came to $81 million.

The board looked at the following options:


· The $81 million plan includes a new three-story classroom wing for the 11th and 12th grades, a three-story science addition, a pool, new gymnasium with seating for 2,400, a 12,000-square-foot library and a new auditorium. The existing central corridor would have the top two floors remodeled for ninth- and 10th-grade students with the first floor being dedicated mostly to a cafeteria and food court area seating nearly 700 students at a time.

Each grade would have 16 classrooms and four science labs, according to the plan outlined by Taylor. Classes in the renovated and new wings would also be larger, about 850 square feet compared to 660 or less now, he said.

This option would add 340,000 square feet of new space, bringing the school to more than 500,000 square feet, according to the plan.

· The $70 million option would delete the pool, reduce the physical education space by 10,000 square feet and the size of all new construction by 5 percent, adding about 300,000 square feet to the building.

· A $60 million option would further reduce the new physical education space by another 45,000 square feet and the existing auditorium would be renovated instead of a new one being built at a cost of about $3.6 million, Taylor said. Renovating the existing auditorium to meet current codes would still be expensive and reduce the number of seats, he said.

· For $50 million, Taylor told board members the new academic space would be added, but most of the other features would be eliminated, he said.

As the presentation progressed, Henn asked if there were any features they wanted eliminated.

"The pool," said board member Stanley Helman. Two or three others agreed, but other board members noted the YMCA pool used by the swim team no longer meets PIAA standards.

Board member Renee Sharpe opposed one option that would reduce new gymnasium seating from 2,400 to 1,200. That would leave the school without any space that would accommodate all students for special events, she said.

Physical education and team practice space already is inadequate with some teams practicing at 8:30 p.m., Principal Barry Purvis said. Bringing in ninth-grade students without expanding physical education would worsen an existing problem, he said.

Once the board makes a decision, Taylor estimated the project would not be ready to bid until the fall of 2008. Construction could take another two years, Buildings and Grounds Director Richard Bender.

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