Little Pa. school to close its doors

February 04, 2007|by DON AINES

FAYETTEVILLE, PA. - The school bell that has tolled to mark the end of the school year at Duffield Elementary School for 85 years will ring out for the last time at that school in June.

But the bell, along with the school's 79 students, will find a new home at Fayetteville Elementary School, which is under construction about two miles north of Duffield Elementary.

The $14 million Fayetteville Elementary School is expected to be completed in time for the 2007-08 school year.

Students at U.L. Gordy Elementary School in Chambersburg, Pa., will attend the new Fayetteville school for the 2007-08 academic year and for the first semester of the 2008-09 year while a new school is built for them.

Fayetteville Elementary School will have four classrooms for each grade from kindergarten through fifth grade. Duffield and U.L. Gordy elementary schools each have just one classroom for each grade.


U.L. Gordy was built in 1961, according to Chambersburg Area School District records. Duffield opened its doors in 1922.

The district will hold a required public hearing on its plans to close Duffield on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the New Guilford Brethren In Christ Church at 1575 Mont Alto Road in Fayetteville, Business Manager Rick Vensel said.

"It kind of saddens me that it is closing, but I know the new Fayetteville school is going to be wonderful for the children," said April McClure, president of the Duffield PTO.

Still, she said, "I'm partial to small schools."

McClure has a son in third grade and an older son who went to Duffield. She also attended Duffield, and said that she and her oldest son had the same third-grade teacher.

McClure said she wishes her younger son could have completed elementary school at the little school, with its farmland and mountain views, but believes he and other students will adjust to the new environment.

"It will take the parents a longer time to adjust," she said.

"It's a good school, you have a nice family atmosphere there," school board member Stanley Helman said. "My boys received a great education there," he said, adding that fellow board member Fred Rice's family has had at least three generations attend Duffield.

"I'm a Duffieldite. I love that school," said Catherine Dusman, assistant superintendent for Elementary Services, whose first teaching job was at the school.

The existing Fayetteville school, with two classrooms per grade, also dates to the 1920s, with expansions and renovations in subsequent decades, according to school district records. Kindergarten students from the Duffield area are attending Fayetteville this year because there were too few to have a class at their own school, Regional Principal Paul Sick said.

The decision to have the U.L. Gordy students attend the Fayetteville school rather than the much closer Hamilton Heights Elementary School was not so much a matter of classroom space as educational programming, Superintendent Joseph Padasak said.

"The Fayetteville school is a Title I school and so is Gordy," Padasak said. "The staff and the faculty are more compatible."

At both Fayetteville and Gordy, 40 percent or more of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. That qualifies the schools as Title I schools because they have a higher than normal percentage of economically disadvantaged students, Padasak said. That means more federal funding for instructional programs, he said.

If you go

What: Public hearing on the plan to close Duffield Elementary School.

When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: New Guilford Brethren In Christ Church, 1575 Mont Alto Road, Fayetteville, Pa.

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