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Chambersburg offers joint plan for career center

December 20, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Area School District will explore what it will take to operate its own career and technology program, but Wednesday held out an olive branch to the other five districts, proposing a joint venture to upgrade the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

Chambersburg has proposed taking over ownership and operation of the career and technology center and upgrading the school, a project the district estimates could cost up to $47 million. In turn, the proposal calls for the other districts - Waynesboro, Tuscarora, Greencastle-Antrim, Shippensburg and Fannett-Metal - to each commit to fund a certain number of student slots.

The response to the proposal has been mostly negative, with some school boards declaring a wish to retain joint ownership and operation. Waynesboro's school board came up with an alternative proposal that was also endorsed, with some amendments, by the Tuscarora School Board.

The basics of the Waynesboro proposal are to sell Chambersburg some of the center's land to allow it to build its own academic wing; commit to funding the center at a level equal to at least 8 percent of each district's high school population; and increasing the number of Joint Operating Committee seats from nine to 15.

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The board voted 9-0 in favor of a resolution "supporting a joint venture to upgrade the FCCTC" provided five criteria are met and the other districts approve the changes by the end of March 2008.

The criteria are:

ยท Representation on the center's Joint Operating Committee be based on the percentage of the three-year average student enrollment at the center. Chambersburg has three of the nine seats on the committee, while Waynesboro has two and the other districts one each. Chambersburg sends the most students to the center, so its representation on the board could be increased.

  • A commitment from each district to modernize the center. Based on architect's estimates, the minimum price tag would be $15 million. That would not include a separate academic building for Chambersburg students.

  • That the cost of operating the center be shifted to a fixed cost formula so districts "would no longer be able to walk away from the fiscal commitments needed" to run the center. Currently, districts pay based on the number of students each had enrolled the previous year.

  • The chief school administrator position become a three-year appointment by the committee. That position now rotates annually between the superintendents of the districts.

  • Chambersburg be given the opportunity to buy land at the center for its academic building. It is the only district that sends its students to the center year-round for both academic and career instruction.

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