James Buchanan's list of woes is lengthy, panel reports

June 26, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The James Buchanan High School building committee's list of facility needs was presented Monday, with priorities identified as the brown water, pool, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

The report included a "virtual tour" of the 35-year-old building, with color pictures showing rusted pipes, a sunken floor and crumbling concrete.

The school board is in the midst of figuring out if and how it can afford to renovate the high school. It formed the 16-member committee of staff, parents, board members and students as an initial step.

The board directed the business manager to prepare an electronic version of the report to be posted on the district Web site,, as soon as possible.


Public awareness will be a critical part of the process, Principal Rodney Benedick said, especially if financial requests have to go before voters due to Pennsylvania's Act 1 of 2006.

"We talked about a 'road show.' I'm willing to go out to clubs, organizations, whatever it takes," Benedick said. Public opinion has been a hindrance for Chambersburg (Pa.) Area School District as it tackles ambitious building renovations, he reminded the board.

Cracks in the tennis courts have sent home matches to Mercersburg Academy for two years, and the track team hasn't had a meet on school property in more than a decade, Benedick said.

"It's not a track anymore," Benedick said, showing a picture of the dirt path at the stadium.

The concrete shell of the pool is good, but pipes below it have rusted, the committee reported. Metal in the floor from old ladders and starting blocks has rusted onto the floor surface, it said.

White stalagmites and stalactites are growing toward each other from leaking pipes, Benedick said. The bottoms have rusted out of pool lockers, he said.

The floor outside the girls' locker room sank two inches, shown in a picture below the ceramic baseboard.

Typically, only one out of four bathroom stalls has a door, Benedick said.

One significant security concern is nonfunctioning gates that mean the public can wander around the building during events like concerts and games, he said.

Custodians spend a week before a concert replacing cracked and broken folding seats with the few remaining extra ones, Benedick said.

Also a security problem are the 450 lockers that are pushed into one space, at times creating a crowd that largely limits the view of staff.

"They're a supervision nightmare," Benedick said.

He thanked the board for its consideration of the issues.

"To me, it never made sense to complain about the problems of the building unless there was a plan to fix them," Benedick said.

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