Laurel School Board approves budgets for new stadium, larger elementary school

By Mike McClure

The Laurel School Board received and approved the preliminary budgets for a pair of proposals during last Wednesdays meeting. The proposals included a larger team building as part of the new middle/high school stadium and a large elementary school to be located on the current site of the Laurel Intermediate and Middle School.

The stadium proposal included a bigger team building which would be part of the proposed football stadium and track. The total cost for stadium with a bigger team building ($577,650) is projected to cost $3,407,126.

The cost includes design/management/GC/permit fees ($357,400); field upgrades; serve for field lights/buildings/press box ($250,000); sound system ($50,000); telecommunication cabling ($35,000); and grandstands; bathrooms and concession building; and the team building. The figures are just projections. Once the design and town/county/state agency approvals have been given (three to six months), the project will go to bid phase (one month) before construction takes place (four to six months). The Board voted, 5-0, to send the athletic stadium proposal to bid.

Superintendent John Ewald reported that the enrollment for grades K-5 is 1,197 and that the planned new 1,200 student elementary school wont hold the projected student population by the time it opens in 2017. The board voted, 5-0, to approve the preliminary budget for a 1,400 student school on the site of the current Laurel Intermediate and Middle School (which would be demolished) with the district office moving to part of North Laurel Elementary School.

The 1,200 student elementary school was planned to be 120,817 total square feet. The 200 student addition would increase the schools size by 8,500 square feet (129,317). The cost per square foot for the 1,200 student school is estimated at $239.25 per square foot while the 1,400 student school would cost $223.08 per square foot.

During the public participation portion of the meeting, a number of community members and teachers addressed the districts current standoff with teachers over their contracts.

Two years ago this community came together in support of Dr. McCoy, now were coming together in support of the teachers, said Bonnie Bly Elliott. Without our teachers, our students will not succeed.

I made a lot of sacrifices to keep my children in this district. I keep my children in this district because of the teachers, Thomas Phippin added.

Nicole Dickerson and Judy Lankford each asked Ewald to call off arbitration and join the teachers and negotiating team at the table.

Spare us the embarrassment that our district faces (first district to go to impasse), said Lankford. Leave everyone else ouT of our districts problems.

Teachers chose this profession because they have a passion for it, said Sue Darnell of the Laurel Education Association (LEA). We put our heart and soul into this job because we want to, not because a contract says we have to.

At the beginning of the meeting, Laurel Athletic Director saluted the Laurel High School student-athletes who were Laurel Stars of the Week and were named to the Henlopen all-conference teams for the Fall Sports season. They are: Stars of the Week- Chucky Auguste, Jarrett Johnson, Reggie Green, Alyssa Givens, Whitney Toadvine, Johnny McGinnis, Dallas Moore, and Shyheim Holden; all-conference- football- Ethan Cahall, Moore, Amari Cannon, Green, Auguste, Johnson, Jake Furbush; field hockey- Sara Jo Whaley, Gaby Culver, Brittany Woods, Givens, Toadvine, and Courtney Snyder; and soccer- Jamal El Mir El Ayoubi and Marc Jean-Charles.

The Laurel Intermediate/Middle Schools Girls on the Run participants were also recognized at last weeks meeting. Many of the girls had never run in a race before competing in a 5K this Fall. The program was also designed to mentor kids and allow them to talk about their problems.

It was an awesome, awesome experience, said Donna Ward, who spoke about the program during the Board meeting.

Its a great program, it did wonders for my daughter, Board member Patrick Vanderslice added.

Laurel High principal Amber Deiter also reported that she took two groups of 100 to 120 student on visits to colleges. Students in grades seven, eight, 11, and 12 visited the University of Delaware, Salisbury University, and Delaware Tech on two different days. Deiter plans to make another college visit with students in sixth and ninth grades in the spring.

The district will continue to offer construction site tours of the new middle school/high school Jan. 8, Jan. 25, Feb. 12, Feb. 22, and throughout the rest of the school year. Tours are limited to eight people per tour and will take place 4-5 p.m. on Wednesdays and 9-10 a.m. on Saturdays.

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