SALISBURY – After five years of planning and construction, officials say a school replacement project is nearing completion.
This week, Wicomico County Public Schools (WCPS) Public Information Officer Tracy Sahler announced demolition of the old Beaver Run Elementary School is complete. A new school building, which was constructed behind the former site, is expected to welcome students in September.
“Site work is ongoing, and the new building will be ready for the start of the school year on Tuesday, Sept. 6 (the date most of our students return),” she said. “With the opening of the new Beaver Run Elementary building, the pre-kindergarten classes formerly located at the WELC (Wicomico Early Learning Center) campus will now all be under the same Beaver Run roof, which is great for the school and community.”
After identifying more than $5.5 million of systematic projects at Beaver Run – which didn’t include funds to overhaul the existing HVAC systems – the school system began planning for the replacement of the aging school, first constructed in 1958. Despite several renovations and additions throughout the decades, school planners identified a lack of instructional space and secure classrooms, outdated mechanicals and plumbing, and an insufficient drop-off and parking design, among other things.
“It is important to note that even if the systemic projects had been carried out, they would not have addressed any of the architectural and or instructional space needs that have been identified …,” a statement from WCPS reads. “The site, as used by both students and staff, was addressed in the design of the new school.”
In 2020, construction of a new school began behind the existing facility. Completed in phases, Beaver Run was designed to bring all classrooms and programs under one roof.
The new building, officials say, will now feature elements that were missing in the old school, such as teacher workrooms, a media circulation desk, a larger kitchen, a secure vestibule and a new classroom design. The new school will have 30 classrooms for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and grades 1-2.
“By bringing pre-kindergarten from WELC (located a couple of miles away), parents and students will have one less school transition,” a statement from WCPS reads. “The community will be able to get involved to support the school earlier which will help cultivate productive relationships between parents and staff. Most importantly, the students will have additional time to build positive relationships with their teachers.”
The 98,000-square-foot building will also include special education rooms, dedicated art and music classrooms, a gym and media center and a community wellness center – a state-funded health center located in the front of the school to provide onsite health services.
“The new school design will provide an enhanced community commitment using shared spaces both during and after school hours …,” the statement adds. “The new design will also allow the school to have performances on-site (within the community) instead of at another location.”
The school system reports the additional instruction space will be able to accommodate students as enrollment grows. The new Beaver Run also features exterior design elements, including metal siding and stone, that match the neighboring WinterPlace Park complex.
“I’m anticipating that there will be a rededication ceremony for Beaver Run Elementary sometime this school year,” Sahler said this week, “when the site work is 100% complete.”