Chambersburg church offers to buy King Street school building

September 05, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Chambersburg School Board is scheduled to act later this month on an offer for King Street Elementary School from King Street Church.

The board could act on the offer from the church at its Sept. 24 meeting, although approval by the Court of Common Pleas still would be required to complete the sale of the two parcels totaling one acre, said Rick Vensel, business manager of the Chambersburg Area School District.

"Obviously, we need more parking. Our building is used by many outside groups now," said Ken Adams, business manager of King Street Church, which has the largest congregation within the United Brethren in Christ denomination.

Vensel said the amount of the offer is not being disclosed at this time, but Adams said it was based on two appraisals commissioned by the district to determine fair market value. The offer is less than $500,000, Adams said.


Built in 1961, the school is scheduled to close in early December if construction of Benjamin Chambers Elementary School remains on schedule.

Students from King Street will be transferred to Chambers, along with those from the 101-year-old Mary B. Sharpe Elementary School. Students from the former U.L. Gordy Elementary School, which was torn down to make room for Chambers, also will attend the new school.

A school district can sell property by one of three methods -- public auction, sealed bids or, in this case, a negotiated sale, Vensel said. The court will review the proposed sale to determine if it is for fair market value and "to make sure this is a good utilization of the space," he said.

"They truly have the public interest at heart," Vensel said of the church.

King Street Church eventually plans to build a new sanctuary, which would consume some of its existing parking, Adams said.

Beyond additional parking, the church has no major plans for the school building, Adams said. With its classrooms and library, it could be used by Scouts and other community organizations, as well as for church functions, he said.

Each week, about 2,000 people attend services, Sunday school classes and other functions at the church, Adams said.

Chambersburg Mayor Peter Lagiovane brought together groups that were interested in the building for meetings this year, Vensel said. Those included the Kittochtinny Historical Society and Franklin County Library System, he said.

"Our board determined this was not the best use of our funds," said Bernice Crouse, executive director of the library system. "At this time, we really didn't have the funds in hand ... particularly to bid on the whole property."

The Coyle Free Library next door to the school also has a parking dilemma and likely only would have been interested in the parcel immediately next door, which is the school playground, she said.

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