Mardela Middle and High School funding still up in the air
WICOMICO CO., Md. – The battle over funding for a major school project in Wicomico County continues as Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver responds to a proposed plan.
Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver says it’s too soon to decide on funding for the Mardela Middle and High School project. Right now, the school is already about 50 years old. But it could be 65 years old by the time ground is broken on the renovation and addition. Parents say they’re concerned about safety, heat, air conditioning and outdated technology. Culver agrees those are all valid concerns but he says there’s still some wiggle room when it comes to a timeline so that the project can be funded in the most effective way.
“I’m trying to be very careful and not trying to waste money,” says Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver.
Culver is responding after Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin proposed a new solution to help fund a major construction project at Mardela Middle and High School. The solution: taking extra money allotted for the new Beaver Run Elementary school and combining it with leftover bonds.
“There are funds that we have communicated with the County about that are overage from bonds from previous projects to the tune of about $4 million,” says Dr. Donna Hanlin, the Superintendent for Wicomico County Public Schools.
Culver and Hanlin agree there’s money leftover in the County that’s allowed to be spent on education projects. However, Culver says it’s too early to tell how that money can or will be used.
“I was just told about two weeks ago by the director of finance that it was closed so with the account being closed, we are able to go ahead and take care of it. So we don’t know if we’re going to put that towards Beaver Run, Mardela High or where right now,” says Culver.
Residents tell 47 ABC they simply want the Mardela project to be put back onto the County’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) because things like this take time.
“When you were trying to construct a school and find funding it’s a five to ten year process and right now with Mardela being pulled off the CIP, for the next five years, that means we are another five to ten years after that to get a renovation done to the schools,” says Michelle Wright, a Wicomico County resident.
Culver tells 47 ABC, there’s legislation in the works that may allow the County to get additional funding for soft costs like engineering and architectural fees. So he’s hoping to wait just long enough so that the project can actually happen.
“But if we wait it could just be a couple of months before we put it into the CIP and say let’s go with it we could be reimbursed that money and it could be millions of dollars to us,” says Culver.
It’s important residents know the Capital Improvement Plan is still not finalized. The County Executive says he’ll deliver a final plan in April. Then it has to be approved by the middle of June so it can be implemented on July 1st.
Residents also tell 47 ABC they’d like to have a formal informational meeting where education and county officials come together to explain this entire situation to the public. The County Executive says he is working to coordinate a meeting with the principal of Mardela Middle and High School.
To see our previous coverage on this story: click here.