Board Approves Feasibility Study For School Replacement

SALISBURY – A feasibility study recommending the replacement of an elementary school will advance to the state board of education with the support of school system leaders.

Last week, the Wicomico County Board of Education voted to accept a final feasibility study for Fruitland Primary School. The study, which recommends a full building replacement, will now advance to the state for approval.

“The feasibility study was reviewed with the School Building Commission on August 25, where they unanimously recommended option E, new replacement school,” Cayla Campbell, facility planner, told board members last week. “The study was then presented at a board work session, where there was consensus that option E, new replacement school, best meets the needs of the students served by this facility and should be the recommended option to move forward for the Fruitland Primary project.”

Campbell noted that the school system recently completed a facility study to assess the condition of Fruitland Primary and offer recommendations for renovations, additions, or replacement.

“With input from senior leadership, it was determined the pre-K through second program used for the new 650-student Beaver Run Elementary School would also meet the needs for the Fruitland Primary students and community and was used as a basis for this study,” she said.

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Campbell noted that the feasibility study presented five options, ranging from limited renovations to full replacement. She said option E, or full replacement, will be presented to the state for approval.

“If the feasibility study is approved here today, it will be submitted to the state in support of a planning request in the FY 2024 CIP,” she said, “and we will proceed with finalizing the educational specification.”

A motion to accept the feasibility study and authorize its submission to the state for approval passed 6-0, with board member Tonya Laird Lewis absent.

The board last week also voted to approve the fiscal year 2024-2029 Capital Improvement Plan and fiscal year 2024 capital budget.

The capital planning document, which lists the Mardela Middle and High School renovation and addition, the Wicomico High School roof renovation and Fruitland Primary project planning as its top priorities, will advance to the acting county executive and the state.

“We reviewed the Educational Facilities Master Plan to show how special initiatives, projected enrollment, capacity, and the facility needs indexes are used to prioritize our funding requests,” Campbell said. “We stress the importance of data-driven decisions.”

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.