The new Dover High School building is taking shape on Del. Route 8. With the future face of Dover High becoming clearer, some community members have begun to wonder what will become of the former home of the Senators.
Those issues were addressed at Capital School District’s Wednesday Board of Education meeting.
“There’s been a lot of questions of ‘Well can’t you use the old high school for this, that and the other?’” said Capital Superintendent Michael Thomas. “Well what I’m telling you is that we had to agree with the [Delaware] Department of Education to demolish the old high school in order to have a certificate of necessity to build the new one.”
Community members have been requesting that parts of the old school like the gyms be saved during demolition so that they can be used as a community center. But, Brad Cowen, project manager with EDiS Contraction Management, informed the board why it’s not possible to save sections of the building. One of the issues is that the $800,000 price tag for the demolition of the former school has already been factored into the project.
“You can certainly salvage some of the building,” Cowen said. “But it’s at a cost and that would be beyond the budget to demolish the existing high school.”
That type of partial demolition is more costly because demolition crews have to be more careful with their work, Cowen said. Crews must be cognizant of structural elements.
“We don’t know the structural makeup of that building,” Cowen said. “You could demolish one piece and affect another piece and cause structural damage, and we would end up taking the whole building down any way.”
The mechanical and electrical systems aren’t conducive to salvage, either, he said. The systems are currently located in the center of the building. If the mechanical room that houses those elements and the gym were maintained through demolition, new piping would have to be run to connect them. The existing equipment would also prove to be inefficient, Cowen added.
“You probably wouldn’t want to use the existing equipment because it is sized for the whole building,” he said. “That would be like taking the furnace in your house and using it to heat only your bathroom.”
The idea has also been proposed that the school could be saved and serve as a new middle school in the district. However, when the district applied for a certificate of necessity the fate of the old Dover High School was sealed.
Page 2 of 2 - “DOE said ‘You’re saying that building has lived its life and we concur,’ and that’s why they gave us a certificate of necessity,” Thomas said.
Aside from being duty bound to the state education department, the district doesn’t have the funds to bring the building up to standards, Thomas said.
“We don’t have money to be putting into facilities that were scheduled to be demolished,” Thomas said. “You can go to referendum for that, but in my professional opinion that’s going to be a hard sell.”