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Waynesboro's vote on career center still to be determined

June 29, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Chambersburg Area School District officials say they have enough support to take the next step in their plan to take over ownership and operations of the Franklin County Career & Technology Center.

However, with Superintendent Joseph Padasak saying he wants unanimous support from other county school districts, only the Waynesboro School Board's wishes remain to be heard. It is expected to vote July 17.

Of seven Waynesboro board members contacted, four said they would support Chambersburg's request for a more formal study to determine the costs and process of a transition. Three others would not commit. Michael Shea and Anna Bostwick-Foley did not return calls.

The Tuscarora, Fannett-Metal and Greencastle-Antrim school districts have authorized Chambersburg to proceed with the study. The Shippensburg School Board voted unanimously against it.

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"There are questions that need to be answered, and I'm not willing to (commit) until I know the final implications," Waynesboro board member Larry Glenn said.

Glenn, Stanley Barkdoll, Lee Daywalt and Chris Devers said they are OK with Chambersburg doing the study. John Fitz, Leland Lemley and K. Marilyn Smith would not say how they will vote.

"We really haven't had a chance to talk about it much, and there are a lot of unanswered questions, so I haven't really made up my mind," Smith said.

"We need to allow Chambersburg to proceed with the study. We don't have enough answers to make an informed decision," Barkdoll said.

While the districts operate the career center, Padasak said the building and grounds are owned by the Technical School Authority, which is run by a board with one representative from each district.

"The way we understand it, it's going to take four of the six votes" for the authority to agree to sell the center, Padasak said.

The next step is developing the transition program, which Padasak said the district wants to have in place by the end of 2007. On Wednesday, the Chambersburg School Board voted unanimously to hire a consulting firm, Franklin Advisory, to develop the plan and cost estimates to present to the districts by Oct. 1.

Patrick Evans, an engineering information administrator with Volvo Road Machinery in Shippensburg, also will serve as a consultant and was introduced to the center's Joint Operating Committee Thursday night.

The committee voted 7-2 in favor of Chambersburg continuing the transition planning. Committee members Donald Hilbinger of Shippensburg and Larry Buchanan of Tuscarora voted no.

Chambersburg has proposed charging the other districts a per-student fee. Each district would have an allowance of the number of students it could send annually, Padasak said.

Likes their vision

"I like what they have to say. I like their vision," Daywalt said, adding he would rather the study find a way for the districts to remain a cohesive group in guiding the center's operations.

"I definitely want to see what they come back with," Devers said. "If we don't do something together, Chambersburg is going to have to do something on their own and support their own needs."

"It's a very good proposal, but we need to analyze it," Fitz said.

Devers said he is looking for a solution in which Waynesboro is "still able to have a great quality of service that meets our needs."

Lemley voiced a number of concerns about Chambersburg's takeover plan.

"I'm not in favor of selling it to Chambersburg, and certainly not at the price they're saying is the value of the school ($5.6 million)," Lemley said. "They couldn't build a small elementary school for that. I didn't see a 'for sale' sign on the door when I first walked in."

Lemley did say he would support the takeover of operations if they don't prove adverse for Waynesboro.

"Right now, we have input. We have a veto in program changes," Lemley said. "What works for them might not work for us over here."

Lemley worries that Chambersburg will allow for enrollment from other schools at first, then eventually use the building for its own academic needs.

"If we're going to continue to have vo-tech offerings, it doesn't make sense to sell - and especially at the price they're offering - our portion. ... It'll be another school in their system," Lemley said.

Staff writer Don Aines contributed to this story.

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