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Pa. board begins redistricting discussion

August 14, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Area School District officials on Wednesday talked about the early stages of redistricting, something that would involve the use of two middle schools.

Superintendent Joseph Padasak said administrators want to have the renovated high school, expanded career center and dual middle schools open in two years.

The school board next month will be asked to select a consultant to work with a committee focused on redistricting, according to Catherine Dusman, assistant superintendent for kindergarten to 12th grade services.

That redistricting needs to be done in a way that balances socioeconomic factors, class sizes and classroom offerings, she said.

"We want all children to have equal access to everything - to programming and with regards to technology. ... It's really our job and responsibility to make the right decisions now," Dusman said.

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She presented the school board with information on a method of redistricting that uses data-driven models looking at subdivisions, geographic areas of growth and population estimates to make predictions for 10 years. The redistricting decisions need to be coupled with an ongoing transportation study and the conversion to two middle schools, she said.

"What we really have going on in the district right now is the perfect storm," Dusman said, saying district officials need to decide how to redistrict a 250-square-mile area into an equal school system.

Some school board members said they appreciated the concept of focusing heavily on data while redistricting.

"This takes the whole political piece out of it," Dusman said. "It's based on data and mathematical algorithms."

Tod Kline, director of educational facilities, said the middle schools would each serve grades six, seven and eight with a student population of 1,050. The district now uses the Chambersburg Area Middle School building for grades six and seven, and the J. Frank Faust Junior High School building for grades eight and nine.

The dual middle schools would divide students into three teams for each grade, with each "team" served by four teachers, Kline said.

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