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Middle school conversion work to be costly in Chambersburg

November 13, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With the $74 million Chambersburg Area Senior High School project under way, the Chambersburg School Board on Wednesday got a look at what it will take to convert two existing secondary schools to middle schools.

The answer, according to the presentation by architect Robert T. Scheeren, could be as high as $50 million.

When the high school expansion and renovation is completed in about three years, the school will be large enough to accommodate grades nine through 12. Ninth-grade students currently attend Faust Junior High School, along with the district's eighth-grade students.

Chambersburg Area Middle School has the district's sixth- and seventh-grade students.

Both Faust, renamed West Middle School in the study, and CAMS, renamed East Middle School, would be converted to middle schools for grades six through eight under the district's plans to realign its secondary schools.

Under one option, expanding and renovating CAMS would cost $26.3 million at today's prices. That includes $5.4 million in new construction, $8.3 million in major improvements to the existing building, $5.3 million in heating, plumbing and electrical work and $4 million in "soft costs" such as professional fees, furnishings and finance costs.

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Projecting cost estimates ahead four years, when construction would begin, the price tag rises to $29.5 million.

An addition would include a new auditorium and stage and rooms for music, chorus and band. The existing auditorium would be converted to the school's library, said Sylvia Rockwood, the district's director for information services.

The study included a second, less expensive option for the 36-year-old school. All the new construction would be included, but improvements to the existing building would be scaled back, cutting the project's cost to an estimated $23.7 million, again based on predicted costs in four years.

Faust, built in 1958, would cost less to convert, according to the study, a total of $19.9 million under one option and $16.9 million under another.

Even without major additions or renovations, CAMS needs about $2.25 million in work, including almost $1.7 million for its heating and air-conditioning system, while Faust needs about $3.3 million, almost half of it in kitchen and cafeteria additions.

The schools also require updated instructional technology, according to the study.

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