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CASHS project is on schedule

March 07, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The steel skeleton of the new academic wing for Chambersburg Area Senior High School has been erected and the new gymnasium is on schedule for completion this summer as the $74 million high school expansion and renovation proceeds on schedule.

Inside the 2,400-seat gymnasium, crews have hung lights and installed the ductwork, but it still is largely a vast expanse of concrete and bare cinder blocks. Some of the features are beginning to take shape, such as the cardio and weight rooms on the upper level, as well as a developmental gym for students rehabilitating from injuries or with other physical issues that prevent them from participating in regular physical education programs, said Tod Kline, the district's director of education structures and programming.

By the time students begin the 2009-10 school year, the gymnasium is supposed to be completed, Kline said. The old gym, which is about half the size of the new one, will continue to be used for physical education instruction and athletics, with the old locker rooms being converted to classroom space, he said.

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"We're actually a little bit ahead of schedule on the academic wing," said Kevin Weller, the district's projects manager. The three-story wing is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2010, he said.

After the wing is finished, students will move in there from the existing academic wing for the 2010-11 school year, Weller said. The old wing of the 54-year-old high school then will be refurbished, he said.

The entire project is scheduled to be finished in time for the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, Weller said. At that time, the school will add the ninth grade, which currently attends Faust Junior High School, bringing the school's population to about 2,000.

Another component of the district's secondary school construction program is a $15 million expansion of the 40-year-old Franklin County Career and Technology Center and a separate academic wing at the center specifically for Chambersburg's students costing in excess of another $21 million.

"We've engaged architects, but have not signed any contracts with construction companies," said Steve Dart, the district's business manager. That could happen by late summer or fall, he said.

Dart said funding will be available to complete both the high school and career center through bond issues, but the district might not get much, if any, fiscal relief through the federal $787 billion stimulus package passed in February.

"In one of the drafts, there was something like $1 million available to the school district," Dart said. "How that came out in the final version, I'm not aware."

Dart said the district might know more about available funding later this month.

Some stimulus money could be available for work at the high school and career center related to handicapped accessibility, energy efficiency and green technology, Kline said.

Less clear at this point is funding for the conversion of Chambersburg Area Middle School and Faust Junior High School, Dart said.

"Until the economic situation becomes a little better and a little clearer, it looks like the school district will not be looking at a large dollar renovation" of the buildings, Dart said. Both buildings will house students in grades six to eight.

Instead, the district could use capital reserve funds to address code compliance and safety issues, Dart said. Whatever changes are made before a major renovation will be permanent, he said.

"When we renovate these things, I don't want them to have to be torn out in 2013," Dart said.

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