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Committee reviews new plan to operate Franklin County Career and Technology Center

November 16, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Area School District's proposal to own and operate the Franklin County Career and Technology Center has run into opposition, prompting the Waynesboro Area School District to put another plan on the table for the county's six districts to consider.

Waynesboro Superintendent Barry Dallara drafted a proposal calling for the districts to sell 35 acres of the property to Chambersburg, while keeping the center itself jointly owned and operated. The plan was reviewed Thursday night by the center's Joint Operating Committee.

"This would allow Chambersburg to construct an academic facility on the Center's campus that would ... provide Chambersburg with an opportunity for students to attend the Center on a full-time status," Dallara wrote. Other districts could, on a tuition basis, have some career and technology students attend academic classes in Chambersburg's building, he wrote.

Several members of the Waynesboro School Board on Tuesday were critical of Chambersburg's proposal to buy the center and its contents for about $7.7 million, saying the offer was below fair market value. Dallara floated his proposal at that same meeting.

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"It was the first time most of the board had seen it and we thought it had merit," Waynesboro Board President Larry Glenn said. The plan provides Chambersburg "with a facility on the premises that is owned by you, run by you," he told Chambersburg's members on the Joint Operating Committee.

Money from the sale would be placed in escrow and used to make capital improvements to the center. Operational funding also is addressed in Dallara's proposal.

"It is my opinion that several of the member districts have participated in what is commonly known as cost shifting for the past ten years," Dallara wrote. Districts have done so by reducing enrollment at the center, thus shifting more of the operational costs to the other districts, he wrote.

Dallara proposes that each district commit to a minimum quota "that will be no less than 8 percent of their overall eligible high school population." For example, there are about 1,000 eligible students in the Waynesboro district, meaning the district would pay center operational costs equivalent to at least 80 students, Dallara wrote.

In its proposal, Chambersburg asked that the participating districts commit to pay for a certain number of student slots, regardless of enrollment. The other districts are Greencastle-Antrim, Tuscarora, Shippensburg and Fannett-Metal.

Dallara also proposes changing the center's articles of agreement to expand the joint operating committee from nine members to 15, giving the largest district up to seven members depending on enrollment. Chambersburg now has three of the nine seats on the committee, although its students make up more than 40 percent of the center's enrollment.

"It's going to be a strain on our district," Tuscarora board member Larry Buchanan said of the financial commitment. However, he said he still wants all six districts involved in running the center.

"If we don't put ideas out there, there's no way we're going to reach a resolution," Chambersburg board member David Sciamanna said. Waynesboro's plan keeps the discussion moving forward, he said.

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