Nearly $80 mil­lion eyed for school ren­o­va­tions

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIEL DIVILIO ddivilio@thekent­coun­tynews.com

ROCK HALL — A draft re­port out­lin­ing the fu­ture of Kent County Pub­lic Schools’ fa­cil­i­ties in­cludes a nearly $80 mil­lion pro­posal to re­lo­cate mid­dle school stu­dents to the district’s Wor­ton campus and ren­o­vate sev­eral other build­ings.

The draft six-year plan com­piled by con­sul­tant David Lever is un­der re­view by the district’s Strate­gic Plan­ning Com­mit­tee. Com­mit­tee mem­bers held ini­tial dis­cus­sions Oct. 26 over the draft and will convene at 4:30 p.m. Thurs­day at Kent County Mid­dle School in Ch­ester­town to offer their top choices among the op­tions listed in the pro­posal. The meet­ing is open to the pub­lic.

“If adopted, the sug­ges­tions pre­sented in this re­port will bring three of the five school fa­cil­i­ties in the school sys­tem to con­tem­po­rary stan­dards of build­ing per­for­mance and ed­u­ca­tional ad­e­quacy,” the re­port states.

Those fa­cil­i­ties are the mid­dle school, Kent County High School in Wor­ton and Galena Ele­men­tary School. Also in­cluded would be “mod­est ren­o­va­tions” at Rock Hall Ele­men­tary School.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the best com­bi­na­tion would be to build a mid­dle school ad­di­tion to the north­west side of Kent County High School, ren­o­vate the high school and re­place the roof, ren­o­vate Galena Ele­men­tary, ren­o­vate the now-closed Wor­ton Ele­men­tary School and move the district’s cen­tral of­fice there and ren­o­vate Rock Hall Ele­men­tary and re­place the roof.

The cap­i­tal cost for the en­tire project would re­port­edly be about $77.2 mil­lion. The re­port states that $24.7 mil­lion could come from the state, leav­ing the county on the hook for $52.5 mil­lion.

Mov­ing mid­dle school­ers from Ch­ester­town to a new fa­cil­ity in Wor­ton leaves open the ques­tion of what to do with the cur­rent mid­dle school. The re­port sug­gests Gar­net Ele­men­tary School in Ch­ester­town could move to the larger build­ing. Gar­net would then be sur­plused back to the county. The mid­dle school build­ing could re­main va­cant and be sur­plused.

“Ei­ther of these ac­tions would sub­stan­tially re­duce the over­all size of the KCPS build­ing plant and im­prove its op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency,” the re­port states.

The re­port shows draft plans for a mid­dle school wing at Kent County High School. The mid­dle school would have a separate en­trance, but share spaces such as the gym, au­di­to­rium and planetarium.

The ren­o­va­tions at Kent County High School would move the weight room in prox­im­ity with other phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion ar­eas and like­wise con­sol­i­date the Ca­reer and Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

“The high school ren­o­va­tions are in­cluded in this com­bi­na­tion be­cause they can be ac­com­plished at the same time as the con­struc­tion of the mid­dle school ad­di­tion, at a rel­a­tively low cost and dis­tur­bance to the ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram,” the re­port states.

At Galena Ele­men­tary, the pre­ferred op­tion in the re­port shows ren­o­va­tions that would im­prove the HVAC sys­tem by mak­ing it geo­ther­mal, im­prov­ing cir­cu­la­tion through the school, bring­ing day­light into in­te­rior spaces cur­rently with­out any and in­creas­ing the num­ber of in­struc­tional ar­eas with­out adding on to the build­ing.

For Rock Hall Ele­men­tary, the ren­o­va­tions sug­gested are to re­move the for­mer high school locker spaces to in­crease in­struc­tional area.

While those are the rec­om­mended sug­ges­tions, the re­port in­cludes a num­ber of al­ter­na­tives of in­creas­ing and de­creas­ing scope, such as a new mid­dle school in Wor­ton com­pletely separate from Kent County High School and ad­di­tions to Galena Ele­men­tary.

“A range of op­tions ex­ist to in­crease the ef­fi­ciency of the school sys­tem’s build­ing plant while also im­prov­ing the in­struc­tional en­vi­ron­ment and build­ing per­for­mance,” the re­port states. “Fur­ther dis­cus­sions as well as in­put by the com­mu­nity may re­veal pref­er­ences for other com­bi­na­tions of projects. The po­ten­tial bond­ing ca­pac­ity of the County Gov­ern­ment is also a fac­tor that will af­fect the scopes of work that are adopted and the project sched­ule.”

The Strate­gic Plan­ning Com­mit­tee is only the first step in a long pub­lic re­view and ap­proval process for any sort of cap­i­tal plan the district might take on.

At the Strate­gic Plan­ning Com­mit­tee meet­ing Oct. 26 at Kent County High School, Chair­man Jeff Grot­sky asked mem­bers to come back to the next meet­ing with their top choice and an al­ter­nate.

Fran­coise Sul­li­van, a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee, said she ini­tially pre­ferred the idea of a separate mid­dle school on the Wor­ton campus.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Tracey Wil­liams, for­mer Kent County High School prin­ci­pal, now su­per­vi­sor of stu­dent ser­vices and sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion for the district, said that by build­ing a separate mid­dle school, the district would lose the op­por­tu­nity to ob­tain state fund­ing for ren­o­va­tions at the high school.

Ques­tions were raised over the to­tal cost by com­mit­tee mem­ber Richard Kalter, who said county of­fi­cials were likely to balk at the price tag rather than raise taxes to fund the build­ing and ren­o­va­tion ef­forts.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Joseph Hard­ing said the district needs new fa­cil­i­ties. He said the build­ings can­not be ren­o­vated to mod­ern stan­dards.

Grot­sky said he did not think ques­tions of fi­nanc­ing were within the com­mit­tee’s purview. He said the com­mit­tee is to look at the district’s fa­cil­i­ties and make de­ci­sions based on what is ap­pro­pri­ate. He said whether it gets funded is up to the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers to de­cide.

Kalter said he wanted to be “some­what re­al­is­tic” in what the com­mit­tee pro­poses.

In ad­di­tion to the meet­ing Thurs­day at Kent County Mid­dle School, the com­mit­tee will hold a work­shop with the Kent County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion from 4 to 6 p.m. Mon­day, Nov. 13 at the district’s cen­tral of­fice in Rock Hall.

PHOTO BY DANIEL DIVILIO

A com­mit­tee formed by the Kent County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion is con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal to build a mid­dle school ad­di­tion to the north­west side of Kent County High School in Wor­ton.

PHOTO BY DANIEL DIVILIO

Con­sul­tant David Lever dis­cusses a pro­posal Oct. 26 with the Kent County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Strate­gic Plan­ning Com­mit­tee to build a mid­dle school wing at Kent County High School in Wor­ton.

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