The construction of the new Dover High School is now 80 percent complete. With the end in sight, The Capital School District invited the community to attend a public forum last week, updating them on the progress of the new facility.
The project has seen some adversity over the last few months, as the district incurred an unforeseen expense when the Delaware Department of Transportation informed the district that it would need to construct Dover High Drive, the road that connects the school’s entrances to Del. Route 8 to state standards. The total cost of the project was originally estimated at $1.3 million, but due to the additional work on Dover High Drive, the total expense grew to $3.1 million.
That unforeseen cost has left the district uncertain as to whether or not it will be able to include all of the parking and the proposed east entrance by the time that the school opens.
The east entrance is intended to be a private, gated road that can be used to allow traffic to exit more quickly during large events, said Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas.
“We will evaluate, once the school opens and the road is operational, if we would even use it as a bus exit area,” Thomas said. “We will evaluate that, but it’s too early to tell right now.”
Two parking lots on the west side of the school, which were originally planned for the site, have been put on hold for the time being and one parking lot by the baseball field is being reduced in size. These changes have been made to safeguard the budget, said Bradley Cowen of EDiS, the firm constructing the school.
“At the very end of the project, if there are dollars there then those lots will be paved,” Cowen said. “Right now we are safeguarding the budget. You’re looking at almost $300,000 to pave those lots.”
The grassy spaces where the lots are slated to go can be used for overflow parking during particularly large events, said Carl Krienen of ABHA Architects, the architecture firm who designed the school.
Despite the uncertainty of some aspects of the project, the presentation made by Krienen highlighted some of the unique features that will be present when the students step foot into the school for their first day of classes.
There will be a dedicated ninth-grade academy where freshmen will attend classes on the first floor of the main school building. It was a goal for the district to have ninth graders in one area, Krienen said.
“Studies have said that keeping those kids together for all of their classes … builds a kind of cohesion for the class,” he said. “By keeping them together in a very large school we thought that would help the overall school community.”
Page 2 of 2 - Special needs students and Kent County Community School will also have their own space on the first floor.
The second floor will house the history, language and English classrooms. The second floor will also be home to the school library and a lecture space. The third floor will house the math and science classrooms.
One of the unique design aspects of the school is the locker commons. Rather than having walls filled with tall metal lockers, the new Dover High School will have common areas filled with rows of half-sized lockers. The locker commons and hallways will have greater visibility to staff, with offices featuring large glass windows overlooking the lockers and classrooms featuring windows looking out into the hallways.
The cafeteria, gym and auditorium will be located in the arts and activities building, which is just behind the main school building and is connected with a breeze-way. The cafeteria will feature a variety of seating options, including outdoor seating, round group tables and long community tables.
Performing arts classrooms and rehearsal spaces will wrap around the auditorium, which was modeled after Central Middle School’s auditorium.
The athletics section of the arts and activities building will feature a main gym, an auxiliary gym, space for wrestling and movement, space for fitness and cardio, locker rooms and athletic storage.
There will also be dedicated spaces for culinary arts, digital art and computer communications. The auxiliary gym will be surrounded by classrooms for career and technical education programs, such as nursing and HVAC.
Despite the bumps in the road along the way Thomas expressed pride in the new building.
“Certainly it is a building that will engender enormous pride within our community,” Thomas said.