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Plan to expand, renovate Franklin County Career Center could be OK'd soon

September 11, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Nearly two years in the making, a financing agreement to renovate and expand the Franklin County Career and Technology Center could be approved by the five participating school districts by the end of this month.

"This has been vetted ... The administrations of all the district agreed to this," Chambersburg Area School District Business Manager Rick Vensel told the school board Wednesday night. As the district with the highest percentage of students at the center, Chambersburg will pay the largest share of the $15 million to renovate the 40-year-old building, plus all of the $22.8 million for an academic wing for its own students, who would attend year-round, he said.

"The two of you persevered through a lot of difficult negotiations," board member David Sciamanna told Superintendent Joseph Padasak and Board President Stanley Helman. "This has been a major accomplishment. We didn't start down this path, but I think we ended up at the right place."

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The Waynesboro School Board will vote on the plan Sept. 16, followed by Greencastle-Antrim on Sept. 18, Tuscarora and Shippensburg on Sept. 22 and Chambersburg on Sept. 24, Vensel said.

"It's certainly gone through an evolutionary process," Waynesboro School Board President Stanley Barkdoll said in a phone interview. "It's been one thing and then another and now something else."

Chambersburg started by proposing a takeover of the center with the other districts sending students on a tuition basis. Former Waynesboro Superintendent Barry Dallara then proposed selling land to Chambersburg for its wing, having all the districts pay for the center renovation, and having the districts commit to paying for a minimum number of student slots equal to 8 percent of their population in grades 10 through 12.

In what is presumably its final incarnation, the renovation and Chambersburg wing will be handled as one project, qualifying it as a comprehensive technical school, which Vensel said qualifies it for $5 million more in state reimbursement and requires hiring just one general contractor.

The Franklin County Technical School Authority will still own the center and it will still be run by a Joint Operating Committee of the participating school districts, Barkdoll said. A majority of each school board must approve the plan for it to go forward, he said.

If approved, Vensel said the project could be ready for bids next spring and completed in time for the 2011-12 school year.

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