Commissioners Approve Showell School Project Bids

Commissioners Approve Showell School Project Bids
Renderings by Becker Morgan Group

SNOW HILL – Construction of the new Showell Elementary School is set to begin in October following bid approval this week.

The Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve bids totaling $39 million for the construction of a new Showell Elementary School on Tuesday.

“Our plan is to begin construction on or about October 1 and open the new school in September of 2020,” Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor said.

Taylor told the commissioners bids for the new school had been received in June and that 15 bid awards totaling $39,045,266 had been approved by the school board in July. He said he was hoping to get support from the commissioners Tuesday so bids could be forwarded to the state for approval.

Planning for the new school began five years ago.

1-showell-150x150.jpg“As I’m sure you remember the projected cost of that project at that time was estimated to be getting close to $60 million,” Taylor said.

A conceptual planning committee was formed, however, made up of school representatives, county officials and board of education members, and costs were cut. Taylor said that was done by reducing the building by 7,000 square feet, relocating it so that existing portable classrooms could stay open during construction, eliminating 200 feet of exterior walls and 39 exterior doors, modifying wall materials and adjusting the mechanical system.

“Through the hard work of the committee and collaborative efforts between the commissioners and the board of education we identified nearly $5 million in savings,” Taylor said.

With the bids presented Tuesday, construction costs for the new school total $39 million but overall project costs—which include architectural and construction management fees as well as the costs of technology and furniture—total $47.6 million. Becker Morgan Group is the project’s architect while Oak Contracting LLC is handling construction management.

“We are extremely proud of the work we have done with you to turn a nearly $60 million project into a $47 million project,” Taylor said.

He thanked the commissioners for their time and support during the planning and design process.

“As superintendent of schools and as someone who was involved in the process from the beginning I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your invaluable input,” he said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino quickly made a motion to accept the bids Taylor presented.

“It’s been a long road,” he said. “I think all of us have the scars and the black and blue marks to prove that we’ve worked really hard to get where we have today. It certainly wouldn’t have happened without the partnership we developed.”

Commissioner Ted Elder also praised the school system’s cooperation and openness.

“I just can’t say enough about what we can do when we work together,” he said.

Commissioner Diana Purnell agreed.

“When we cannot sit down and com together we cannot accomplish very much,” she said. “This has been a communicating process… That’s what we need in this county.”

Commissioner Jim Bunting, who with Elder and Bertino served on the committee that helped bring the school’s costs down, offered similar comments.

“It didn’t come in where I wanted it,” he said, “but I learned a lesson that you did the best you could do and I appreciate it.”

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.