New Bennett Middle School experiencing overcrowded conditions

New Bennett Middle School experiencing..

FRUITLAND, Md. - Bennett Middle School in Fruitland is only two years old, but already they're having overcrowding issues. 

Severe overcrowding in the BMS cafeteria is causing safety concerns among staff and students, and has reportedly resulted in several injuries since the school opened its doors in August 2015.

Originally designed in 2013-14 when the projected student enrollment was 988 students, the cafeteria has a capacity of 335 students. Wicomico County Public Schools said in a press release that BMS currently has 1,058 students.

Six tables have been added to the cafeteria stage to accommodate for the overcrowding.  Because the seats are so close together, kids have to walk sideways to fit through walkways.

Projected enrollment at BMS suggests the number of enrolled kids could reach 1,200 in the next 10 years, creating a need for an expansion.

Construction of the Bennett Middle School cafeteria expansion could begin as early as December, and with good weather, would be completed in time for the 2018-2019 school year.

The proposed project has a $1.4 million price tag, and must be approved by the Wicomico Board of Education.

"Well it's critically overcrowded, severely overcrowded to the point where we're really concerned about the safety of our students and our staff.  It was built for 335 students to have lunch at one time, and we have well over that now," said Paul Butler, director of WCBOE communications.

Wicomico County Public Schools says the money is available because the original construction of the school was under budget.

A media press conference on the project is scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the school.

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