School Master Plan Outlines Possible Future Projects

BERLIN – The design for the Snow Hill
High School renovation will need to be updated before the school board seeks
funding for the long-planned project.

The plan for the renovations was approved
and adopted by the state in 2006, and the plan will be 54 months old when the
Worcester County school system goes back to the state to request funding.

Two years ago, the school board agreed to
defer the school’s improvements until fiscal year 2013. That plan is still in

The plan update would be concerned with
technical changes, such as new equipment makes and models. Ed Barber, assistant
superintendent for administration, estimated that the updated plans would cost
$150,000. Renovations at Snow Hill High School are projected to start in the
2012-2013 school year.

Additionally, the school system will ask
the state for permission to begin the three-year process to fund either the
renovation or replacement of Showell Elementary School in the next few years. A
feasibility study must be done before design work or construction. The state
must sign off on either a renovation or replacement.

The state relies on school enrolment in
its decisions on school construction, Barber said, but that is a false measure
for Worcester County. “Our enrolment is not increasing as it has been in the
past,” said Barber.

When the economy does turn around, the
building projects that have been on hold will begin again and enrolment will
rise, he said. However, long-term decisions under this process must be made
based on a momentary growth plateau.

“Somewhere in the next 10 years we will
see that growth,” Barber said.

Even if the student body numbers remain
the same, county school buildings still have needs, Board of Education
President Bob Hulburd said.

Stephen Decatur Middle School will need
an addition in the future, according to schools staff.

In the near future the school board will
also need to make some decisions about other aging schools, which are all at
least 40 years oldm including Berlin Intermediate School (1969), Snow Hill
Middle School (1970), and Pocomoke Middle School (1970).

The core component of the schools’
infrastructure in Worcester County is old, said Board member Jonathan Cook.

“It’s going to have to be addressed … we
have an aged plant,” Cook said.

Cook also noted the school system’s
“heavy reliance” on portable trailers as classrooms.

When the economy does recover, inflation
will occur and renovations will cost more, Cook said.