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Chambersburg board eliminates $1.5 million in programs, positions

March 23, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Chambersburg Area School District rolled out its first round of cuts in response to next year's $3.5 million budget deficit and an unresolved teacher contract situation.

The Chambersburg Area School Board unanimously approved the abolishment of three professional programs and nine support staff positions at its regular meeting Wednesday night at the Chambersburg Area Middle School.

Programs eliminated include the dental hygienist, exploratory language and driver's education. Support staff positions cut include a computer technician, Chambersburg Area Senior High School technology helpdesk, general office secretary/health room aide at Chambersburg Area Middle School, and six secretarial jobs to the following: assistant superintendent for programs and support services, dental hygienist, library supervisor, reading supervisor and two from the middle school guidance office.

The cuts, effective at the end of this year, will save the district $1.5 million in the 2011-12 school year, according to Superintendent Joe Padasak.

Board members Lori Leedy and Renee Sharpe both expressed their remorse for the cuts during a difficult economic time for the district.

"I would personally like to say that this is not an easy thing to do," Leedy said. "This board has struggled and times are tough. These kinds of decisions are very, very tough, so if anyone thinks they can make these decisions easily and simply — it's hard."

Sharpe wished to thank the district's dental hygienist, who has provided free care to more than 2,000 students.

"It's helped a lot of our children and it will be missed," she said. "As Lori said, these are difficult decisions and we have a lot of needy children, and sometimes these things are difficult to swallow."

Sylvia Rockwood, a human resources official for the district, made the recommendation before the board and later said that additional action will be required at the board's next meeting to approve a resolution for the Pennsylvania Department of Education about the changes in programs.

Rockwood said there was an additional position that is being abolished, but it's a position at the middle school level that will move to the high school to accommodate for ninth grade being held in the high school next year. The position was posted for hire last Friday, Rockwood said.

The board and its union, the Chambersburg Area Education Association, are scheduled to meet for another bargaining session today, starting at 5 p.m. Once again, a large number of teachers was present at Wednesday's meeting.

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