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GASD Passes on Auxiliary Gym Update

After considering the project for many months and getting requisite bids, the Gettysburg Area School District (GASD) declined to spend $915,487 for an update to the school gym that was to be rolled into a $16.5 million renovation of the building’s heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC) system.

The HVAC system update itself, deemed necessary by school officials, was approved on a unanimous vote.

The vote occurred at the board meeting yesterday evening after three letters from community members questioning the wisdom of the gym project had been read aloud.

Gettysburg High School Weight Room

Board President Kenneth Hassinger, Board Vice President Al Moyer, and Board members Timon Linn, Michael Dickerson, Tim Seigman, and AmyBeth Hodges voted against the project.

The update would have combined the school’s existing weight room and auxiliary gym, and added a second floor over part of the area, providing more space for exercise and other activities. Proponents said the expansion would be used by a majority of the school’s students but those opposed questioned its utility and said cost per square foot was too expensive.

Board Member Carrie Soliday spoke in favor of the project saying “this project has been discussed for years. It was strategically planned for saving dollars and would meet the need for those who are running and leading the programs at the school.” 

Board member Kathleen Pratt noted the project was a low-cost bid and that combining it with the overall HVAC update would save 30 percent on its cost.

High school principal Jeremy Lusk said “I appreciate trying to save money.  We’re talking about modifying two spaces: A gym and a fitness area. It allows for different uses and supervision.”

Amy Beth Hodges spoke against the project, saying “This not the time nor financial environment for a major project. It would be a major mistake to go forward.   Many of us have not received paychecks.  I do not believe at this time we should make decisions like this with such a large price tag.”

Board member Tim Seigman said even after the addition there would not be enough room in the gym for sports practice and that a separate field house would benefit more students.

Hassinger said he was divided. “It’s unfortunate they have to be tied in together.”

Linn said a new building would be more significant but might never happen.

The board approved two other building projects: Funds to replace toilet partitions in all 20 bathrooms in the building at a cost of $99,900 were approved on a 6-3 vote with Hodges, Dickerson, and Sylvan Hershey dissenting, and replacement of floor tiles on the stairs near the library at a cost of $48,300 was approved in an 8-1 vote.

Only Hodges voted against the stairs project, saying the project was “frivolous” and that the stairs were not a hazard. Hassinger disagreed, saying the board should follow the expertise of the staff and that “it was clear to me there were significant issues with that floor area.” 

On a unanimous vote the board declined to fund at this time the replacement of floor tiles in the school’s lobby and cafeteria, a project that would have cost $236,700.  Part of the board’s rationale was that the stairs and the lobby floor projects were independent and the stairs project could be used as a test to see what the work would be like going forward.

The board also voted in favor of purchasing a new gym divider for Lincoln Elementary School.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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