New Snow Hill High Scores Final Approval

SNOW HILL — It’s official — Snow Hill is getting a new high school.
The Worcester County Commissioners gave the project final approval this week and groundbreaking is expected to be this January with construction potentially completed by fall of 2016.
It has been nearly a decade since the ball first started to roll on a renovated Snow Hill High School (SHHS).
“As you are well aware, planning for the renovation of Snow Hill High began with a feasibility study in 2004,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson told the commissioners Tuesday. “Nine years later, we’ve completed the design, secured full state construction funding and executed a very successful bid process.”
The total cost of the project will be roughly $49,639,958 after items such as furniture and electronics are factored in. Construction cost will be an estimated $39,709,978 with the state contributing $4,667,000 total. Construction costs looked to be a little closer to $40,000,000 when the Board of Education gave their approval to the project in August. However, the commissioners eliminated $265,500 worth of construction alternates Tuesday.
Commissioner Virgil Shockley pointed out that three of the 17 bid alternates that the school board requested were not part of the recent Pocomoke High School (PHS) renovation project, which the commission has been using as a benchmark for Snow Hill.
“We made a promise to a lot of people that we would build a school in Snow Hill as good as the one we built in Pocomoke,” said Shockley.
The three alternatives that were not in place at PHS were quartz vinyl tile in corridors, a tuckpoint, clean and sealing of all existing exterior brick and a polyurethane running track system. Shockley suggested the commission remove those items from the project, which they did so unanimously.
Additionally, Judy Boggs questioned the use of terrazzo tile in SHHS in areas like the commons, the lobby and the cafeteria.
“I have a concern because we still are in the mode to get the very best we can but at the very best price, also,” she said. “And when I think terrazzo tile, I think that’s way top of the line.”
The terrazzo tile that will be placed in SHHS is not the most expensive or highest quality, however, but falls more toward the middle of the spectrum, according to the school board. Boggs did not suggest removing or changing the tile material after being assured by the board that they used moderation when selecting the tile.
After the removal of the three alternate items that Shockley noted, the commission voted unanimously to give the project the okay. The renovation and addition will approximately double the size of SHHS to 124,000 square feet. There will be new classrooms, a new media center, gym, labs, athletic complex and more. The renovated school will also feature geothermal heating, motion activated lights, a science wing and new cafeteria.
“We believe that a renovated school, which offers enhanced learning opportunities for our students, will be a tremendous asset,” said Tom Davis, SHHS principal. “Although we will have to make adjustments due to construction on-site, our students and teachers are ready because, at the end of the day, they need a new facility. They have been patient and are excited that this day is finally here, the day we’ve received the final green light to move forward. We are thankful.”
While work is being done, the 323 SHHS students will remain in school and make use of 13 portable classrooms and four temporary structures to handle any disruption or overflow.