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Boards to hear Franklin Co. career center takeover plan

June 01, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The Chambersburg Area School District's plan to take over ownership and operation of the Franklin County Career and Technology Center took a somewhat tentative step forward Thursday when the center's Joint Operating Committee tabled consideration of the plan until after it has been presented to all the school boards.

The Chambersburg School Board voted 6-3 Wednesday to allow the administration to present the plan to the other districts - Waynesboro, Greencastle-Antrim, Shippensburg, Tuscarora and Fannett-Metal.

Superintendent Joseph Padasak told the committee that Chambersburg wants to buy the school, invest up to $24 million in capital improvements and equipment for vocational education and have students from the other districts attend on a fee-for-serve basis. Chambersburg students, and potentially those from other districts, would also take academic courses at the center.

Padasak said Chambersburg wants the other districts to agree in principle to the plan by the end of June. If the plan moves forward, a transition team involving all the districts would be created with the goal of Chambersburg taking over the center in the 2008-09 school year.

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Critical to the plan is that the other districts make a four-year commitment to pay for a guaranteed number of student slots, whether that number of students actually attends or not.

"Chambersburg has to know what the level of participation is going to be from the other districts" to manage the center financially, said Waynesboro School Board member Stanley Barkdoll, who was not at the meeting, but participated by telephone.

"Chambersburg is taking the most risk here by a long shot," Padasak said. It would make the investment in the building and programs using funds from a bond issue and would see its annual costs for the center double from the current $2.5 million, he said.

Not all the comments were supportive of the plan.

"It's our desire that this remain a jointly funded school," Shippensburg School Board member Donald Hilbinger said. "We want to try and make this thing work as a six-school operation."

"I didn't see a for sale sign on the building when I came in," said Waynesboro School Board member Leland Lemley, who attended the meeting, but is not on the Joint Operating Committee.

"I don't understand how that's in Waynesboro's best interest," he said before the committee began the discussion.

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