Plan Outlines Worcester’s Future School Projects

NEWARK – A capital improvement program (CIP) approved last week by the Worcester County Board of Education outlines school construction plans for the coming years.

Last week, at the recommendation of Superintendent Lou Taylor, the school board approved the fiscal year 2020 CIP and agreed to forward it to the state’s Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC).

“Each year we are required to submit a capital improvement program to the state of Maryland Interagency Committee on School Construction,” said Annette Wallace, the school system’s chief operating officer. “The CIP is a six-year plan that allows the IAC to identify public school construction needs and to establish a feasible schedule for funding.”

The CIP approved this week includes some funding for Showell Elementary School, as construction of the new facility is set to begin this fall, as well as funding for future projects. Future projects listed are roof replacement at Pocomoke Middle School, an addition to Stephen Decatur Middle School, roof replacement at Snow Hill Middle and Pocomoke Elementary and a replacement of Buckingham Elementary School.

The addition for Stephen Decatur Middle School, which is listed for funding in fiscal year 2022 according to the CIP, would add 16,300 square feet of space to the school. The school which opened in 1997 to serve seventh- and eighth-graders in the north end of the county, currently has 644 students and has projected enrollment of 704 students by 2023. According to the CIP, continuing growth has resulted in difficulty accommodating students. Just five years after the school opened, four portable classrooms were added to the facility. The school now has nine portable classrooms. The CIP estimates the cost of the addition at $9.2 million.

The replacement of Buckingham Elementary is estimated at $54.3 million in the capital improvement program. The CIP calls for a 78,000-square-foot school to replace the existing facility, which was built in 1978 and operates at 124 percent of “local rated capacity” and 97 percent of “state-rated capacity.” The school currently uses five portable classrooms. The CIP seeks approval for planning the new school in fiscal year 2023 and suggests funding in 2025/2026.

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.