DECATUR MIDDLE

The Worcester County Commissioners gave the Stephen Decatur Middle School addition project the final blessing needed before construction can start next month. The project will add 12 classrooms, four science labs and prep rooms, restrooms, lockers and additional storage space, as well as doing away with nine portable classrooms. Construction is expected to wrap up in December 2022.

The Worcester County Commissioners approved the bids and project construction costs for the Stephen Decatur Middle School addition on Tuesday, the final step before the project can begin.

“We’re very excited that this addition will be moving forward with the commissioners’ unanimous approval today,” said Louis Taylor, superintendent of Worcester County Public Schools.

Construction can break ground on the 25,000-square-foot, $11.09 million project in November and completion is estimated by December 2022.

The addition to the Berlin school passed through multiple pre-construction phases, most recently receiving bid approval from the Worcester County Board of Education in September. In July, the commissioners approved a steel bid package for the project.

The project will also receive $4.8 million in funding from the Maryland Interagency Commission on School Construction, which was announced in May, according to a memo to the commissioners from Taylor.

While no commissioner opposed the project, Commissioner President Joe Mitrecic lamented the cost of the project, considering that it would have only cost around $1 million had the addition been a part of the original school design.

In 1997, when the school was built, a group of petitioners effectively put the additional square footage on ice.

“So we can thank that group who petitioned us for adding $10 million to the cost?” Mitrecic asked Taylor. The superintendent replied it wasn’t his place to say.

Afterward, Taylor was optimistic that the school will realize its full potential by adding 12 classrooms, four science labs and prep rooms, restrooms, lockers and additional storage space, as well as doing away with nine portable classrooms.

“While we wish the initial construction of the school met the enrollment needs for the region, we are not looking back, but forward, as we design the space to better reflect the workspaces today’s students need,” Taylor said.

This story appears in the print version of Ocean City Today on Oct. 8, 2021.

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