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Teachers at former Scotland School get preference for public jobs

October 31, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

SCOTLAND, PA. -- The Pennsylvania General Assembly, which eliminated funding for the Scotland School for Veterans' Children in early October, has created a hiring pool to give the boarding school's furloughed teachers preference for positions in public school districts.

Public schools affected by Act 50 of 2009 are 17 miles or less from Scotland School, or 45 miles or less if they have more than 8,000 students enrolled.

The list includes all Franklin County school districts, the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, Gettysburg Area School District, Shippensburg Area School District and Harrisburg City School District.

Joseph Padasak, superintendent of the Chambersburg Area School District, said he received a letter dated Oct. 9 that addressed hiring rights for former Scotland School teachers.

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"Any openings we have that would be appropriate to the furloughed Scotland School for Veterans' Children employees, they'd have to be offered that position," Padasak said.

James Robertson, superintendent of the Waynesboro Area School District, said his district received the same letter.

Neither the Chambersburg Area or Waynesboro Area school districts currently are hiring for teaching positions.

C. Gregory Hoover, superintendent of the Greencastle-Antrim School District, said this week he was told to expect a letter, but had been out of the office for a few days. He said he already saw the copy sent to the Gettysburg Area School District.

Hiring preference involves Scotland School's professional and temporary professional employees for three years from their formal notice of suspension.

"No new employee shall be hired by an eligible school entity ... until the position has been offered, in the order of seniority, to all properly certified members of the applicable pool," language in the fiscal code states.

Scotland School had 40 teachers and 146 other employees, according to published reports.

State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, said he wasn't involved in creating the provision, so he did not want to comment on it.

"I think they wanted to give the employees the first opportunity for jobs open in the area to help them transition with the closing of the school," said state Sen. Richard Alloway, who also did not pen the legislation.

Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York, said he's continuing to explore the possibility of reopening the school as a national charter school for children of veterans.

Kauffman said the Scotland School property cannot be disposed until it is placed on the surplus property list, no earlier than 2010.

"There is no current marketing of the property going on by the General Services Administration. Governmental options for appropriate re-use are being explored at this point," Kauffman wrote in an e-mail.

"My big concern is I don't want that property sitting there and starting to get into disrepair," Alloway said.

The General Services Administration and governor create the list of surplus property and send it to legislators for review, Alloway said.

"There have been a lot of rumors there's already a deal cut for the school, but I assure you there isn't," he said.

The school had 185 acres and 70 buildings.

Chambersburg Area School District administrators soon will tour the property, though they have no specific plans to obtain it, district spokeswoman Sylvia Rockwood said.

"There's certainly no immediate plans or thoughts for the district using it," she said, saying the tour is mostly a chance to see what is there.

The Chambersburg Area School District already is receiving another government property.

Last week, Congress passed legislation that included the transfer of ownership of the 20,000-square-foot Chambersburg Army Reserve Center when a new readiness center is built at Letterkenny Army Depot. The Chambersburg Area School District will receive the old armory.

No timeline or uses have been determined for the old armory, which was transferred without cost to the school district, Rockwood said.

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