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Energy concerns could delay plans to build new Grandview school in Chambersburg

September 12, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Chambersburg Area School District purchased land adjoining Grandview Elementary to build a new school in the future, but that could be pushed back a decade or more if the district spends more than $3 million to upgrade systems in the 58-year-old building.

Brian Towne, a senior business development manager for Chevron Energy Solutions, presented a plan to the school board this week for "rejuvenating the heart, lungs and skin of this building."

The project would replace the roof and heating, lighting and electrical systems, and install air conditioning, a fire-alarm system and water-conserving fixtures for $3.3 million. Adding new windows and doors would bump the project cost to $3.6 million, he said.

Chevron Energy Solutions has held what are termed performance contracts on half a dozen schools in the district, including the high school. If a contract is awarded before Thanksgiving, the work could be completed by the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, Towne said.

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Towne said natural gas would replace the existing oil system, although it would have an oil backup. The energy saving measures at the building would cut its energy bill by about $22,000 a year, according to Towne.

"Are we making a long-term commitment to that building?" board member David Sciamanna asked.

"That boiler system will not last more than 18 months," Superintendent Joseph Padasak said.

While the district purchased additional land for a new elementary school at the same site, he said that could not happen for at least seven to 10 years under the district's current construction plan, he said.

"When I voted for (buying the land), I thought we were going to build a new building," Sciamanna said. If the district goes forward with the performance contract, he said the district should replace the windows and doors, as well.

Board member Renee Sharpe said that, while developers have plans for the northern part of the district from which Grandview draws its students, those plans have been stalled by the housing slump and highway improvement issues.

Padasak said keeping the school open gives the district the flexibility to avoid overcrowding at the district's other northern elementary schools.

Built in 1950, Grandview was expanded in 1963.

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