Feasibility Study On Mardela School OK’d

SALISBURY – School leaders this week approved a final feasibility study for improvements at Mardela Middle and High School.

On Tuesday, Facility Planner Matt Auchey presented the Wicomico County Board of Education with a completed feasibility study for Mardela Middle and High School. The study included four options for improving the facility, from simple mechanical and electrical upgrades to a completely new school.

“The School Building Commission recommended Option 3,” he said, “as well as the superintendent and the community.”

According to the feasibility study, the third option calls for a revised parking layout, a two-story addition and complete systematic upgrades to the existing space. The facility would increase from 96,000 square feet to 106,000 square feet.

“There is a strong desire for this school to stay in the community,” Auchey said. “Option 3 allows the school to stay on the current site.”

Auchey explained the third option – which is estimated to cost $71.8 million – would eliminate portable classrooms, provide adequate teacher workrooms and media center, incorporate common areas for specific age groups and include a new auxiliary gym.

“A new auxiliary gym will be provided to help eliminate the strain on the cafetorium …,” he said. “Also in the cafetorium, we are going to do our best to enhance the acoustical output of that space because we know the theater programs and the music programs are very important to that school.”

Auchey noted the option also includes a newly designed nurse’s suite, an enhanced entrance vestibule, and instructional space dedicated to special programs, among other things.

“The new classroom design will allow for flexibility,” he said. “Conscious efforts will be undertaken to separate the middle and high school. The current design does not really allow for that. Moving forward we will do our best knowing that there will most certainly be overlap.”

Auchey told the school board the parking layout would also be revised to include separate bus and car lots.

“Right now, it’s a concern with students driving, and with buses entering and teachers trying to leave,” he said.

Auchey noted the third option would allow the school system to address both systematic and instructional issues at Mardela Middle and High.

“In the current capital plan, we have over $8 million worth of systemic issues at the school,” he said. “So if we don’t address this school, we still have all of these issues that need to be taken care of. And even if we went in there and addressed the systemic problems, we obviously are not addressing all of the instructional problems. So, again, Option 3 allows us to meet both sides of the spectrum.”

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.