Public hearing held for Chambersburg career magnet school

December 08, 2010|C.J. LOVELACE, Staff Correspondent

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Only one person spoke during a public hearing Wednesday on a proposed new career magnet school that would serve Chambersburg Area Senior High School students.

The new $10.43-million facility would be situated on approximately 11.64 acres adjacent to the existing Franklin County Career and Technology Center, with a capacity of 538 students, Chambersburg Superintendent Joe Padasek said.

The addition for grades 9-12 addresses projected population growth affecting vocational and academic programs as well as student capacity deficiencies identified in a districtwide facility study, Padasek said.

Currently, 290 Chambersburg students attend the tech center, which is shared with Greencastle-Antrim, Waynesboro, Shippensburg and Tuscarora school districts. Officials welcomed the public to address any concerns with the project, but only one person came forward for comment.


Greg Musser of the Parents Advisor Council applauded the school system for its efforts to include more students in vocational classes, but called a lack of additional vocational space as part of the expansion of the current tech center a possible limitation to Chambersburg students in the future.

District students can use either school, officials said. The associated districts have lobbied for the bare minimums in additions at the current center, Musser said.

“We believe this is the limitation for the size of our magnet school because neither Chambersburg nor the other districts will add on to the career and tech center in the foreseeable future,” Musser said.

“Therefore, the number of students in the career and tech center cannot be increased.” The district’s size per grade for students in kindergarten through fifth grade is around 700 each, Padasek said.

Musser urged the school board to look at additional options in regard to student enrollment at both schools before moving forward with the current plan.

Before the public comment period, Gregg McLanahan, the district's financial adviser, detailed three funding options for the project.

The district ultimately decided on the third option, which accommodates educational programs, addresses facility needs, is designed for future growth and most importantly, meets the project budget, he said.

The district expects to receive around $3.98 million in state reimbursement for the project, which leaves the district owing around $580,000 per year over the life of a 20-year general obligation bond issue.

McLanahan said the general obligation bond issue was the most cost-effective option compared to a local authority issue or financing through the State Public School Building Authority.

“The general obligation alternative offers the school district the advantage of lower interest rates, more favorable refunding provisions and keeps more control with the local school board,” McLanahan said.

The other options included a new 900-student capacity high school, which was the most expensive option, or maintaining the existing high school with capital improvements.

Padasek acknowledged that the district is facing difficult times financially, but also has begun making arrangements for the expansion.

“We did budget some of the money this year for it,” he said. “We know the payments are going to be somewhere around $580,000 a year so we budgeted $125,000 this year, and we'll phase the rest in next year.”

The same firm that is proceeding on renovating the existing tech center, Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates Architects of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is handling the project. Construction is projected to begin in the spring once final plans are approved.

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