Showell School Project Talks To Resume In November

SNOW HILL – Education officials said this week they would allow the school system’s new superintendent to settle in before renewing efforts to push the construction of Showell Elementary School forward.

Though the project was expected to come up at this week’s meeting of the Worcester County Commissioners, it was not discussed. Commissioner Chip Bertino, however, made a motion to formally allow the school system to return to discuss it in the future.

“If the board of education wants to come to us again, I’d like them to be put on the agenda,” he said.

When contacted Wednesday, Jonathan Cook, president of the Worcester County Board of Education, said the delay was a result of Friday’s announcement that Lou Taylor, the school system’s chief operating officer, would be replacing Dr. Jerry Wilson as superintendent.

“Since we just went through this huge transition with the change in leadership, the board wanted to wait before we approach the commissioners,” Cook said.

He said the board wanted to wait 30 days before efforts to get plans for a new Showell Elementary School (SES) approved resumed.

School system officials have been working for years to move the project forward. County leaders balked when school system estimates that put the cost of a new school at $54 million.

Progress was made last fall, however, when the commissioners approved a pro forma cost estimate of $37,181,000 for a new 90,000-square-foot school to replace the aging, outgrown facility on Route 589.

When they presented the concept plan last month, it was for a 94,866-square-foot facility that would cost $45,967,959. According to Brad Hastings of Becker Morgan, that cost was an average of three estimates his company had acquired. He said that with an estimated $7.5 million contribution from the state, the county’s share of the cost would be $38,428,959.

The commissioners, only six of whom were present, failed to approve the plan. A press release from the county last week, however, indicated the county was committed to seeing a new school built. Officials said they simply needed additional time to digest the information presented.

“We are proud of the Worcester County education system and remain committed to building a SES that builds on the unparalleled educational opportunities we offer our youth,” Jim Bunting, president of the County Commissioners, said last week.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.