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Pa. high school renovation budget swells

March 01, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The Chambersburg School Board on Wednesday approved an amended plan for the renovated and expanded Chambersburg Area Senior High School that raised the estimated cost to $73.8 million.

The board decided in December 2006 to consider a $70 million plan, but an addition to the physical education program raised the estimated cost nearly $4 million.

The board voted unanimously to approve a plan to send to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, with the goal of having the project ready to go out for bids in October or November. Bids would be received in December or January 2008, said architect Paul Taylor of Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates of Mechanicsburg, Pa.

"From the outset, I have not been crazy about the decision to renovate at that site," board member William Tolleson said.

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"If we want to go with an adaptive gym, we have to do it tonight," he said of the option to expand the physical education program.

The change would add about 21,000 square feet of instructional space to the second level of the new gymnasium that would be added to the school. That would include the adaptive gym for students with special needs, physical disabilities, or who are recovering from injuries or other medical conditions, including pregnancy.

"There are 36 pregnant girls at the high school ... That's about average," Principal Barry Purvis said.

The second level of the gym, which would seat 2,400 people, would also have a cardio fitness room, weight room, storage areas and an elevated track. The change in design would free up space on the main level for a fourth instructional area, Taylor said.

Business manager Rick Vensel said approving what are known as PlanCon A and B for the school gives the Department of Education notice that the district has gone through the conceptual phase and is being designed. That will mean an expenditure of about $2.5 million on design work over the next six months or so, he said.

Taylor said the project will take 2 1/2 to three years to complete once construction begins. During that time, a new three-story classroom wing will be built and the students will take classes there while the existing wing is renovated.

When first unveiled to the board last year, the plan for the high school had a price tag of more than $80 million, but that was whittled down by removing some amenities, including an indoor pool, renovating rather than replacing the auditorium and reducing classroom sizes by 5 percent to 807 square feet.

The plan approved Wednesday night includes demolishing the technical education wing, the auditorium stage and music areas. The rest of the auditorium will be renovated at a savings of about $1.6 million and the existing cafeteria will be converted into business classrooms. The administrative wing would also be renovated and enlarged.

Along with a new wing of classrooms, the school would have a technical education wing, an 12,000-square-foot library and media center and the new gym.

Once the project is completed, the school would have a capacity of 2,000 students, and ninth-grade students who now attend Faust Junior High School would be moved into the building.

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