BERLIN – Showell Elementary School will end the school year early to allow for demolition of the existing facility and preparation of the new school.
A waiver from the state will allow Showell Elementary to end the school year on Friday, June 5. The last day at Worcester County’s other schools is set for June 16.
“I am grateful that the request for a waiver of the 180-day requirement has been approved,” Superintendent Lou Taylor said. “As the Showell project continues toward completion, this additional time will ensure that the new Showell Elementary School will open safely for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.”
Construction of a new Showell Elementary School, to be located behind the existing building, began in October 2018 and is proceeding on schedule. A key component of the project, however, is demolition of the current school to allow for construction of a bus loop and staff parking area for the new facility. Taylor, on behalf of the Worcester County Board of Education, requested a waiver from Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon in December to reduce the school year’s days for Showell students.
Joe Price, the school system’s facilities manager, said local officials were thankful the state had granted the waiver request.
“That was critical,” he said.
Currently, construction is right on schedule, with “substantial completion” expected at the end of April. Price said that meant that once the school system received approval from the fire marshal, boxes could begin to be moved into the building in May. Furniture is scheduled to be installed in early July with technology to follow.
Price said the tricky part of the process involved demolishing the existing school.
“We have five months of site work,” he said. “We’re trying to squeeze that into this summer.”
He doesn’t expect all of the site work to get accomplished prior to the county’s first day of school on Sept. 8.
“When we open we’ll have a functional bus loop, functional student drop-off and a functional staff parking lot,” he said, adding that things like landscaping and lighting might not be complete at that point. “We’ll continue with that site work once the building opens.”
The school system advised parents Tuesday that Showell would be ending the school year early. Teachers and staff, however, will still report through the end of the contractual school year.
“As this early closure will likely impact many of our families’ childcare plans, I wanted to communicate this information to you as early as possible,” Showell Principal Diane Shorts wrote in a letter provided to parents Tuesday. “I also want to assure you that even with the early dismissal for Showell students, your child will still be attending school well above the state’s mandated minimum school hour requirement.”
Maryland’s code requires that schools be open for pupil attendance 180 days and a minimum of 1,080 hours during a 10-month period.