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Waynesboro school board offers alternatives on career center plans

November 14, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro Area School Board has informally rejected another school district's proposal to take over control of the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

The board plans to further develop and circulate its own suggestions for the future of the career center.

While no vote was taken Tuesday, nearly every Waynesboro board member spoke against the Chambersburg Area School District's plans. Chambersburg officials had offered a few million dollars to each of the other five school districts that jointly own and operate the career center.

Chambersburg would operate the career center and charge the other districts (Waynesboro, Greencastle-Antrim, Tuscarora, Shippensburg and Fannett-Metal) fees based on the number of students sent to the school.

The Waynesboro board said it hadn't been offered a fair market value for the facility, especially since the appraisal was initiated by the potential buyer.

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The board also scoffed at a draft proposal that would require students meet various academic criteria - like having a C average - when applying for a Chambersburg-run career center.

"Many kids go to that program because they're not going to a post-school education. They're not going to college (and go to the career center to learn skills). ... I think with some of the criteria they have set, it's going to be hard for those kids to gain admission," board member Chris Devers said.

Waynesboro Superintendent Barry Dallara circulated a memo to his board members, suggesting that the five districts sell approximately 35 acres of the career center's Loop Road property to Chambersburg.

Dallara said Chambersburg could build a separate facility for its academic needs and possibly construct a corridor to the career center for its vocational needs. That would create the comprehensive high school desired by Chambersburg, he said.

His memo suggested that the proceeds from the sale be put into an escrow fund to pay for the career center upgrades that all parties agree are needed.

"If something is not done at the vo-tech, my opinion is that in five years we won't have a vo-tech," board member John Fitz said.

The board also discussed the possibility of Chambersburg pulling out of the career center altogether if its proposal is rejected.

"When the school was founded, it was founded because all the districts could do what no one district could do," board member Leland Lemley said.

Board member K. Marilyn Smith said the career center would be in very serious trouble without Chambersburg's participation.

"We'll still have a school," Lemley said, saying Chambersburg should not act like "the 800-pound gorilla in the room."

Chambersburg does need a new school, Smith said.

"They don't deserve to take one we all own," Lemley said.

"My concern is that if no one says 'no' to Chambersburg's proposal, it never comes off the table," board member Michael Shea said. "We need to say, 'We're willing to work with you, but not under your proposal.'"

"I think some of the Chambersburg board members might quietly welcome a different proposal," board member Stanley Barkdoll said.

In October, Chambersburg's vote to present the proposal to the other districts was 5-4.

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