by Lisa Tome
More than anything, Kaylee Daniels just wanted to know where she'd be finishing her time in elementary school.
Daniels, a current fourth grader at Perryville Elementary will be going to another school next year - either Bainbridge or Charlestown. She and her mother, Michele, were just two of the about 120 people who turned out to hear how the planned renovation at Perryville will impact them last Wednesday.
"She (Kaylee) started here (Perryville) in first grade. It upsets me. I don't like that they are being divided and won't graduate from fifth grade together," said Michele Daniels.Kaylee was also upset.
"I feel sad. I can't see all my friends. Some of them will be at other schools," she said. "I'm nervous about being at a new school."
Asyah Brown, another current fourth grader agreed.
"I am nervous about a new school. We'll be meeting different teachers and all," said Brown.
Lloyd Beard found out that his second grade son, Sean, will be going to Charlestown. School officials announced that Route 40 will be the dividing line in determining where students will go. Those who live in downtown and on the Perryville side of Route 40 will go to Charlestown. Those who live north of Route 40 will go to Bainbridge.
"Charlestown is a good school. I went there. I am worried about the changes but Sean adjusts and adapts. Hopefully, he'll adapt to this without any issues," said Beard.
School officials outlined the plan and answered questions. Numerous school officials from various departments, tackled the issues.
Construction at the school is slated to begin in June 2014. Phil Conte, the lead architect for Studio Jaed, showed how the new school will look. The current school was built in 1955. renovations were undergone in 1969 and 1982. The reason the school won't be razed is because part of it was renovated in 1982. "The building components have come to the end of its useful life," said Conte.
The construction will include site improvements such as areas separate for bus drop off and parent drop off (pedestrians). The school will have a new play area and more open areas. Major interior improvements for the $18.7 million renovation will include upgrades to the gym and administration area and a new courtyard and media center. There will also be a new kitchen and cafeteria, secure entrance, new bathrooms, and more. "This is a complete renovation. Every inch of the school will be touched," said Conte.
"This project will not be without challenges," said Perry Willis, executive director for support services for Cecil County Public Schools. He said the division of students between the two neighboring schools will be somewhat equitable.
Georgia Clark, executive director for elementary education for the school system, explained that the alternative schools were selected because all the schools feed into both Perryville High and Perryville Middle. She also said that the "instructional quality" at the schools is consistent throughout the system.
Both Bainbridge and Charlestown will be over capacity by 80-100 students during the renovation. School officials promised that small class sizes, about 26 students, will be maintained. The staff from Perryville will go to both Bainbridge or Charlestown. The greatest distance for school buses due to the renovation will be six miles.
The new school will be 69,000 square feet versus the current 62,000 square feet. The current building capacity is 500 students. The new building will have space for 434 students. Willis cautioned that building capacity can be misleading because it is calculated by teaching stations.
"After two years we will be coming back here. This is just temporary," said Willis.