By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Sept. 27, 2018) Construction on the new $47 million Showell Elementary School is scheduled to start this weekend.
On Tuesday a groundbreaking ceremony occurred in the original Showell Elementary School that first opened in 1976.
The current 5,200 square-foot building will be replaced with a state-of-the-art 9,600 square-foot facility, eliminating the need for current nine portable classrooms.
“Construction will start this weekend, on Saturday,” William Moschler, project manager for Oak Contracting, said. “My expectation is the building will be completed on time and to the requirements and expectations of the community, the design team and the client, Worcester County Public Schools.”
Plans to replace the aging and outgrown Showell Elementary have been in the works since 2014. The Worcester County Commissioners approved funding for the pre-construction and bidding process in January.
“This has been a long time coming,” School Superintendent Lou Taylor said. “It’s been a labor of love for all of us. All [these] folks coming together to make this happen today, it’s very rewarding … to see it happen.”
Problems with the current building reportedly include an aging roof, insufficient classroom space and inadequate technology systems. Numerous other problems were cited, including heating and air conditioning systems and plumbing and electrical systems nearing the end of their life expectancy, and lighting said to be substandard. Additionally, many items are not ADA-compliant, and mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems do not meet current energy standards.
The 40-year-old school currently enrolls 536 students in kindergarten through third grade. Fourth graders were moved out of the building because of a lack of space. With the additional 4,400 square feet, almost 300 fourth grade students are expected to return to the building upon its reopening.
“The school system in Worcester County has been tilling for a long time and we’ve done great things,” County Commissioner President Diana Purnell said. “We have a future ahead of us that we do not know what the end is going to be.
“We’re going to put together our schools, curriculum, our teachers, our commissioners, everybody that’s invested in this system, because this is our greatest investment: our young people,” she continued. “Their world is so much different than our world. This is a combination of coming together and working together, and it’s going to be great.”
County commissioners, members of the board of education, public officials and teachers and staff came together on Tuesday to celebrate the beginning of construction.
One such staff member was Wilda Stroh-Street, the original school principal. Street retired in 1992, but was overjoyed by the news that Showell students would be able to study in a new facility.
“It’s beautiful. Showell has a record of being one of the blue-ribbon schools, but it’s also a national blue ribbon [school],” Street said. “We know it’s one of the top schools in the United States.”
According to Taylor, the new school is expected to be finished in time for the start of the 2020 school year.
“We’ve got two years of hard work to get to September of 2020 and, if all goes well, weather cooperates, everybody stays on schedule, we’ll make that happen,” Taylor said. “This is just a great day for the Showell community.”