New Wicomico School Project’s Design Phase OK’d

SALISBURY – School officials in Wicomico County last week voted to approve the design development phase for the replacement of Beaver Run Elementary School.

The approval comes seven months after the school board voted to issue a $1.8 million contract to Hord Coplan Macht for design services and more than three months after accepting a schematic design for the new facility.

Matt Auchey, facilities planner for Wicomico County Public Schools, said the school board’s approval would be needed to submit the design development documents and supporting materials to the state in order for the project to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2020.

“The DD (design development) submission is due to the state by Nov. 1 in order to be considered for funding in the FY20 CIP submission,” he said, “so this is a critical date for us.”

School officials expect the school replacement project to cost $43.34 million, around $24,000 less than originally anticipated.

Plans for the new 98,000-square-foot facility include space for 30 classrooms and 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 school’s exterior will also feature design elements, such as metal siding and stone, that complement the buildings found at the nearby WinterPlace Park complex, while the interior will be outfitted with security features, including cameras, a secure vestibule at the entrance of the building, locking classroom doors and areas of refuge within the classroom.

While the board had no questions about the building’s design, board member John Palmer said he was concerned with ongoing drainage issues near school property. He pointed out that stormwater runoff from a nearby county-owned property often flooded school grounds and questioned what was being done to remedy the situation.

Leisl Ashby, director of facility services for the school system, said plans for stormwater management will be reviewed in the future.

“We will review stormwater management as part of the project,” she said, “and the county does review the stormwater management plans for this project.”

With no further questions, the school board voted unanimously to approve the design development phase. While the project is funding dependent, construction is expected to begin in March of 2020 and finish by the summer of 2022.

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.