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Dover Post
  • Caesar Rodney school board presented with possible plans for district development

  • The Caesar Rodney School District could look very different in the coming years if the board of education moves forward with a proposal to renovate all 12 of its schools, expand four buildings and construct a seventh elementary school.
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  • The Caesar Rodney School District could look very different in the coming years if the board of education moves forward with a proposal to renovate all 12 of its schools, expand four buildings and construct a seventh elementary school.
    On Tuesday, Studio JAED, a Bear-based architecture firm hired by the district to study its capital improvement needs, recommended the district consider undertaking those projects, many of which it says are needed to alleviate overcrowding.
    But to fund all the upgrades and new construction, the district would first have win approval of one or more referendums to fund the local share of the plan’s estimated $100.5 million cost, with the remainder coming from state coffers.
    The Caesar Rodney school board is slated to vote Aug. 19 on whether to approve some or all of the capital improvement proposal, as well as take the first steps toward seeking state funding approval.
    School board member Cheryl Precourt on Tuesday compared the proposal to the Capital School District’s recently completed construction of a new Dover High School, a project that carried a $114 million price tag.
    “Isn’t that high school over $100 million,” she asked. “I’m trying to put it into perspective because [the proposal] makes you have a heart attack [when you see the total]. In the total picture, versus one high school, that is different.”
    Pam Babuca of Studio JAED noted that all the Caesar Rodney’s school are currently at or over their recommended capacity now and growth projections indicate the problem is only going to worsen in the coming years.
    “You’ve been feeling the squeeze for a reason, you’ve got kids coming in,” she said. “That is a great blessing, but it comes with a great responsibility.”
    One of the ways the district could remedy overcrowding is by adding a new $18.6 million elementary school near the intersection of Banning and Briabush roads in the Magnolia, according to Philip Conte, an architect with Studio JAED.
    The district already owns property there that could be used for a 68,657-square-foot school with room to house 600 students, he said.
    Conte also presented a proposal to expand Caesar Rodney High School, J. Ralph McIlvaine Early Childhood Center, and both F. Niel Postlethwait and Fred Fifer III middle schools.
    A proposed $26.8 million addition at Caesar Rodney High would add a ninth-grade academy, 10 additional classrooms, a reconfigured athletic storage building and two turf practice fields.
    Board member Melody Heavner expressed concerns about that proposal, specifically regarding whether adding classroom space for more students would create overcrowding in other parts of the high school.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Can you say that if we built [a freshman academy and additional classrooms] all of those kids [would] be able to get into the cafeteria at some point in time without having lunch at 9:30 a.m.,” she asked.
    Babuca said the problem could be alleviated through proper scheduling. But she added that no further expansion of Caesar Rodney High would be possible without adding more gym or cafeteria space.
    Other proposed expansions include the addition of four new classrooms at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center at an estimated cost of $2.7 million, and 14 new classrooms at both Postlethwait and Fifer middle school at an estimated total cost of $16.6 million.
    JAED Studios also analyzed the projected maintenance needs at all of the district’s schools over the next five to seven years, including roofing, energy consumption, carpets, painting and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    The district’s six elementary schools will need an estimated $9 million in repairs, while the middle schools would need about $12 million in upgrades and the high school would need about $9.8 million in improvements, according to Conte. The John S. Charlton School also would need roughly $4.5 million in work, but that cost would be borne by the state because the school serves special need students from throughout Kent County.
    If the school board votes to proceed with the capital improvement plan proposed by Studio JAED, it would need to submit a request to the Delaware Department of Education before Aug. 31 in order to seek a referendum in the next year, according to district officials.
     

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