County Moving Process Forward On Buckingham School Replacement

SNOW HILL – Plans for the eventual replacement of Buckingham Elementary School continue to move forward.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the Worcester County Public Schools Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal year 2024. The CIP includes a planning request for Buckingham, the aging Berlin school built in 1978.

“We began a feasibility study for Buckingham Elementary School in July,” Superintendent Lou Taylor said. “That study is scheduled to be completed sometime in December.”

Each year in November, school system leaders approach the commissioners seeking approval of the CIP. The CIP presented this month includes planning and design funding request for Buckingham as well as a design funding request for roof replacement at Snow Hill Middle School/Cedar Chapel Special School.  In the list of future projects are roof replacements at Pocomoke Elementary School and Worcester Technical High School as well as a Snow Hill Elementary replacement school.

As far as the Buckingham Elementary project, Taylor said the feasibility study was underway and would be reviewed by the school board in December before being sent to the state. It will be presented to the commissioners in March.

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According to the CIP, there have been no additions or renovations at Buckingham in its 44-year history and there are five portable classrooms in use. The school is at 90% of its state rated capacity and 120% of its local rated capacity.

Commissioner Jim Bunting asked if the school system would create a committee to help develop plans for the replacement school, as it had done with Showell Elementary School.

“We will follow that same process,” Taylor said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the CIP as presented.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic asked Taylor about capacity at Stephen Decatur High School, as CIP projected enrollment in 2024 exceeds 1,500 students before decreasing in later years.

“It’s been brought up to me by members of the public,” Mitrecic said.

Taylor said the projections were typically correct but could vary a little.

“It’s right around capacity right now,” he said, adding that there wouldn’t be a problem unless enrollment exceeded 1,600.

Taylor pointed out he’d been principal there for 21 years and the largest graduating class during that time had been 364. He said the current sophomore class was on track to be the first graduating class over 400 students.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.