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School swimming pool idea renewed at CASD meeting

September 27, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Cut during the planning phase of the high school, the idea of a pool to serve the Chambersburg Area School District was resurrected at Wednesday's school board meeting, this time in partnership with the Chambersburg YMCA.

"It would be a state-of-the-art mega pool ... Multiple programs could be going on at the same time," Mark Shoap, an elementary physical education teacher, told the board during his presentation. The district would pay for the $4 million pool at the YMCA across the street from Chambersburg Area Senior High School and the YMCA would bear the cost of operations, approximately $400,000 a year, under the proposal.

Shoap outlined the advantages for the district and the community - teaching swimming, safety instruction, lifeguard certification, elective physical education programs and lifelong fitness among them.

The high school's swimming and diving teams are at risk unless the 30- and 50-year-old pools at the YMCA are replaced because they are not deep enough to meet new interscholastic standards, he said. New sports, like water polo, could be added, he said.

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School Board President Thomas Orndorf said the district began talks with the YMCA earlier this year after the pool was cut from the $73.8 million high school renovation and expansion.

The cost of a study and some design work would be about $101,000, YMCA Executive Director Dave Matthews said.

"We have a lot of commitments on the table right now," board member David Sciamanna said. "I would hate to spend any money on design and find we don't have any money to back it up."

Along with $73.8 million for CASHS, the district is looking at about $47 million for a proposal to buy, expand and operate the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, plus $20 million for work on Chambersburg Area Middle School and Faust Junior High School, both of which would become middle schools after CASHS is completed.

On Wednesday, the board also heard a report on expanding the 3-year-old Scotland Elementary School at a cost of about $7 million. That project, if it goes forward, would expand the school from three to five classrooms per grade.

Then there is Act 1, the school property tax reform law. The cost of a natatorium cannot be paid for out of the $116 million in debt incurred by the district in 2004 to pay for building projects and would have to be paid for out of new taxes or capital reserves, Business Manager Rick Vensel said.

"I think it's a pretty easy problem to solve ... put a referendum on next spring" in the primary and let residents decide, board member Stanley Helman said.

"The only reservation I have right now is the whole career and technology issue," said board member Lori Leedy, who said she favored the district having an aquatics program.

The proposal to pay for the pool study will be on the board's agenda in October.

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