Beaver Run Reconstruction Plans Move Forward

SALISBURY – School officials in Wicomico County this week voted to approve a schematic design for an elementary school replacement project.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Board of Education voted unanimously to a schematic design for the replacement of Beaver Run Elementary School.

Approval for the design comes four months after the school board voted to issue a $1.8 million contract to Hord Coplan Macht for their architecture services.

Matt Auchey, facilities planner for Wicomico County Public Schools, said initial design renderings of the new facility include 30 classrooms and space for special education instruction at the back of the school and a cafeteria, gymnasium, office, media center and state wellness center –  a health center located in the school to provide onsite health services – in the front.

“The building grew by a few thousand feet,” he said. “We added the state wellness center, which allows us to pick up 3,000 square feet that the state will fund, so we are taking advantage of that.”

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Auchey added the facility’s exterior would feature design elements, such as metal siding and stone, similar to buildings found at the nearby WinterPlace Park complex.

“A lot of these things will come and go over the next couple of months, but this gets the process started, to start to show the materials, the storefront (windows), the metal panels,” he said.

Scott Saxman of Whiting-Turner Contracting Company told the school board that some materials to be used in the construction of Beaver Run came with an uncertain price tag, but noted that his team had accounted for any changes.

“We all hear on the news there’s steel tariffs and threats of trade wars and that affects certainly the construction industry, so when we looked at this we looked at it conservatively,” he said. “We looked at what this volatility will do, so we incorporated that into our estimate and we came up with a good escalation factor and we also looked at materials that would be subject to higher degrees of escalation and we accounted for that also in the process.”

Jeff Hagan of Hord Coplan Macht said the 98,000-square-foot building could accommodate up to 650 students.

“We’ve looked at some recent projects in the immediate area and we found that we are actually right in line with where we would expect to be in terms of square foot per student,” he said, “which is about 150 square feet that we’re building per student.”

While costs to construct the building total $370, more or less, per square foot, Leisl Ashby, director of facility services for the school system, said that estimate was in line with other school construction projects and would account for inflation once construction begins on the building two years from now.

“The cost per square foot is fairly in line with what has recently bid in the area,” she said.

Auchey added he was pleased with the schematic design and the current budget for the project.

“Overall, we feel very comfortable with where we are landing and where we are going,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.