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Fayetteville's new school nearly ready as old one goes

July 29, 2007|By DON AINES

FAYETTEVILLE, PA. - As the finishing touches are being put on Fayetteville Elementary School, its older and, by comparison, run-down namesake next door is in the early stages of its disappearing act.

Removal of asbestos from the old Fayetteville Elementary School started last week, said Kevin Weller, the Chambersburg (Pa.) Area School District's construction projects manager.

Demolition will begin by late August and the school, built in 1922 and expanded in the 1950s, will become parking and green space for the new $14 million building, Weller said.

The new 83,000-square-foot school, which is four times the size of its predecessor, will be ready for students when school starts Aug. 27, Weller said.

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That gives the school less than two weeks to have reached the stage of substantial completion to receive its certificate of occupancy, he said.

Meeting that deadline is important because the school district has closed two elementary schools - Duffield and U.L. Gordy - and those students will be joining those who attended the old Fayetteville Elementary School.

Duffield, about the same age as Fayetteville and fewer than three miles south on Mont Alto Road, had about 80 students in 2006-07. Duffield will be used as an alternative school, Superintendent Joseph Padasak said earlier this year.

Gordy, more than seven miles away in the Borough of Chambersburg, was closed at the end of the school year to make way for construction of its much larger replacement at the same site on Miller Street.

Once the new Gordy school opens in early 2009, the district will close the 100-year-old Mary B. Sharpe Elementary School and King Street Elementary School, both in Chambersburg, said Catherine Dusman, assistant superintendent of elementary services.

Fayetteville and Gordy, which will be somewhat larger than Fayetteville, both will have four classrooms for each grade. Dusman said Fayetteville's student capacity is about 600, but will open this year with about 420 students.

Fayetteville's principal, Barb Wolf, also is new to the district, but is used to administering at schools as large or larger than Fayetteville from previous positions in Harrisburg, Pa., and Florida. This will, however, be the first time she opens a school.

"You always hope for that one time in your career," said Wolf, who is entering her 11th year as a principal. "I'm just really impressed with the craftsmanship. I think the kids are going to love this."

In the year and a half he has worked for the district, Weller said Gordy is his fifth project. The others were Fayetteville, Trojan Stadium at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, an addition to Hamilton Heights Elementary School and demolition of the old Scotland (Pa.) Elementary School.

A major project looms - the $70 million renovation and expansion of Chambersburg Area Senior High School, which is expected to be ready for bids this fall.

Fayetteville's colonnaded portico leads into the main entrance with an airy two-story atrium, cupola and skylight. The building has two instructional wings for 28 regular and special education classrooms for kindergarten through fifth grade, and a multipurpose room that includes a gymnasium with five basketball courts, a stage and cafeteria.

"I don't think they overdesign buildings," Weller said of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, the Mechanicsburg, Pa., architectural firm that designed the school. The design is much along the same lines as the new Scotland and Gordy schools, he said.

The library at Fayetteville, named for the late George T. Hartzell, a former school board member whose family donated part of the land for the school, will be about the same size as the current high school library, Weller said. Fayetteville also has computer labs, small group instruction areas, special education classrooms, a nurses' station, and separate art and music rooms.

Those last two subjects were taught in regular classrooms at the old school, Weller said.

"There's plenty of room for technology in the building," including media centers in each classroom, Weller said. Hanging from the drop ceilings, the media centers can project, in two different directions, DVDs, videotapes, cable television programs, information from the teacher's computer or video from a central location in the school, he said.

There also are a dozen computer connections in each room, Weller said.

"We have, programmatically, the ability to educate children with a much more comprehensive plan" in the new school, Dusman said. That includes four all-day kindergarten classes, she said.

The school has video cameras and audio sensors in the hallways, and the main entrance has an electronic lock so that visitors have to be buzzed in, Weller said. Once inside, a visitor has to pass through the office to get to the instructional wings, a separate set of doors to the classroom areas being locked after school starts, he said.

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