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The addition to the Stephen Decatur Middle School was approved as part of the Worcester County Board of Education’s capital improvement plan during the Worcester County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

(Nov. 6, 2020) An addition to Stephen Decatur Middle School expected to cost $13 million was among the county school capital improvement projects approved by the Worcester County Tuesday.

The 24,820 square-foot addition will contain 12 general education classrooms, four science labs, four science preparation areas, two meetings rooms, one conference room and storage space. 

This will eliminate the need for the nine portable classrooms the school has been using. 

Superintendent Lou Taylor said that the estimated state share of funding for the addition had increased from $362,000 last year to $4.8 million this year. The county is responsible for the remainder. 

County Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic pointed out that when the middle school was built, that addition was included in the design, but was removed via a petition, ultimately costing the county more money now. 

School and county officials have said that the school was too small when it was built in 1997, and student population projections are increasing. 

County Commissioner Chip Bertino asked if there was a chance Worcester could see a decrease in funding for school projects because of the coronavirus or a change in the ranking system for projects. 

Vince Tolbert, chief financial officer, and Taylor both reassured commissioners that project funding would not be decreased. 

“They understood the magnitude it had on the economy and how those dollars generated jobs and how to reduce funding for those projects now would go through the school systems and also would . . .decrease job opportunities,” Tolbert said in a separate interview, referring to a meeting with Delegate Maggie McIntosh (D-43), who chairs the Maryland House Appropriations Committee. 

How the state chooses to allocate school project funding is subject to change. 

The addition project received planning approval from the Interagency Commission on School Construction and the Maryland Board of Public Works. The Worcester County Board of Education is now requesting state funding for fiscal year 2022. 

The educational specifications, schematic design and development documents have been completed. Construction documents are still being worked on. 

Other future projects are: 

  • Roof replacement at Snow Hill Middle School.
  • Roof replacement at Cedar Chapel Special School. 
  • Roof replacement at Pocomoke Elementary. 
  • Renovation/addition or replacement project for Buckingham Elementary.

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

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