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Chambersburg school board considers delaying redistricting

October 09, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Bell time changes, elementary school redistricting, changing bus routes and middle school and high school transitions could mean a Rubik's Cube of scheduling issues over the next three years in the Chambersburg Area School District, prompting the school board Wednesday night to consider delaying redistricting a year.

In upcoming weeks, the district will consider whether to hire a consultant or plan the redistricting in-house. The basic outline of the plan has to take into account consolidation of elementary schools, creation of two middle schools for grades six through eight at Chambersburg Area Middle School and Faust Junior High School and moving the ninth grade from Faust into an expanded Chambersburg Area Senior High School.

The plan is derived from a 2002 plan that anticipated two high schools, dividing the district diagonally from northwest to southeast, said Tod Kline, a district administrator in charge of the secondary school elements of the plan.

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The plan also will shift the boundary lines for elementary school attendance, said Catherine Dusman, assistant superintendent for elementary services. Faust would become the northern middle school, taking in some of the students moving up from Hamilton Heights and Buchanan and all of the students from Lurgan, Ben Chambers, Grandview, Scotland, Guilford Hills and Fayetteville elementary schools, she said.

Chambersburg Area Middle School would become the district's southern middle school, also taking in some Buchanan and Hamilton Heights students, along with all of those who attended Stevens, South Hamilton, Falling Spring, Coldbrook, Marion and New Franklin elementary schools, Dusman said.

The goal is to achieve an academic, socioeconomic and class-size balance in the elementary and middle schools, she said. As presented Wednesday, the elementary redistricting would be implemented in 2010-11, with the secondary transition occurring in 2011-12.

However, next year the district will be changing the start and end times of elementary and middle schools, in part to lengthen the instructional day for elementary students. Currently, secondary schools start before and end after elementary schools.

In 2009-10, secondary schools still will start classes earlier, but the elementary school day will end after secondary schools let out.

That will mean revising bus schedules and routes over a 250-square-mile area, Human Resources Director William Hodge said. That would have to be done again the following year with elementary redistricting and again in 2011-12 for the secondary transition.

"I can't even imagine doing all of that at the same time," board member Renee Sharpe said.

"It seems to me you're creating a lot of extra work because of redistricting," Board President Stanley Helman said. "I think we need to focus on getting the transportation piece into place."

The board reached a consensus that it would be easier, with potentially fewer complications, to do the elementary redistricting and secondary transition both in 2011-12.

That still leaves less than a year to do the planning and put in place the new 2009-10 school schedules, new transportation software and new bus routes for 9,000 students.

"It's a daunting task," Hodge said.

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