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Waynesboro school board moves ahead with different plan for career center

November 21, 2007|By DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro School Board on Tuesday authorized the administration to estimate the cost to the six school districts of a proposal by Superintendent Barry Dallara to support the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

Dallara's proposal, an alternative to the Chambersburg Area School District's plan to buy and operate the center, calls for selling Chambersburg about 35 acres of center property to construct its own academic building. The money realized from the sale would be placed in escrow, to be used for capital improvements at the center.

Dallara's plan also asks the districts to commit to a minimum number of student slots at the center, equivalent to at least 8 percent of their high school populations in grades 10 through 12.

"Somewhere down the line, someone is going to have to put some expenses in the building," board member John Fitz said. Chambersburg is the only district in a financial position to do so, but cannot unless it owns the building, he said.

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Chambersburg is prepared to spend as much as $47 million to renovate and expand the nearly 40-year-old school, Board President Larry Glenn said.

Several Waynesboro board members, however, have said the price offered by Chambersburg to buy the center, about $7.7 million for the building and contents, is too low.

Dallara also proposed expanding the size of the center's Joint Operating Committee from nine to 15, giving Chambersburg, the largest district, more representatives. However, that would require changing the center's articles of agreement, Glenn said.

"There are at least two districts absolutely opposed to doing anything different" in terms of how the center is governed, Glenn said. Changing the articles would require a super majority of six votes on each of the six school boards that send students to the center, he said.

Fitz noted that Chambersburg's own proposal only cleared its board by a 5-4 vote.

Dallara's proposal has "a lot of merit," Glenn said, but the other districts first will want to see how much it will cost. Chambersburg appeared willing to consider other proposals in order to get something accomplished for the center, he said.

"I think we need to be putting those numbers together," Glenn said. Those figures include how much the sale of the 35 acres to Chambersburg would realize and how much it would cost the districts to commit to a minimum number of student slots at the center.

Fitz said the cost of doing essentially nothing cost Waynesboro an additional $152,000 for its share of running the center this year. That is because other schools, including Chambersburg, have seen enrollments go down while the number of students Waynesboro is sending has remained about constant.

A district's share of the costs is based on enrollment, he said.

By the time either Chambersburg's or Waynesboro's proposals are ready for a vote, both boards will be considerably changed. As a result of the Nov. 6 election, Chambersburg will have two new members next month and Waynesboro will be swearing in four new directors.

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