SNOW HILL – Plans for a new Showell Elementary School are again moving forward following the school system’s efforts to bring the project’s cost down.
On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners approved a $1.6 million funding request from the Worcester County Board of Education. The funding will allow the school system to complete the design and construction documents for the new school.
“We finally got somewhere,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said. “I appreciate everybody’s patience. I think it’s paid off.”
The construction of a new Showell Elementary School has proven to be a controversial one during the past year. While no one disputes the need for a new building, county leaders and school system officials have been at odds over the project’s price. After early school system estimates set the cost at $54 million, the commissioners developed their own pro forma cost estimate of $37 million.
When education officials presented plans for a $46 million facility in September, the commissioners said they needed more time to consider the project and its financial impact.
When school system officials returned to the commissioners this week to seek funding to proceed with the school’s design, county leaders were quick to approve the request.
Bunting credited Superintendent Lou Taylor — whose official first day as head of the school system was Tuesday — for his efforts to cut $3.5 million off the cost of the project during the past few weeks.
“Lou’s been working hard with his staff,” Bunting said.
He said the projected cost of the school, which was $46 million, had been adjusted to $42.4 million.
“It’s a big change without affecting the quality of the school,” Bunting said.
He said the cost savings were crucial as the county looked ahead toward other school construction projects and continued to work to make sure teachers were compensated fairly.
“Saving money like this is going to help us do that,” he said.
Taylor thanked the commissioners for their support.
“It’s an honor for me on my first day as superintendent to be able to move this project forward,” he said.