Sunday, August 06, 2017
BENNETT MIDDLE SCHOOL CAFETERIA EXPANSION NEEDED
Student safety is one of the core values of Wicomico County Public Schools, and that is why the school system is assessing the critical need for additional cafeteria space at Bennett Middle School. Severe overcrowding in the BMS cafeteria is causing safety concerns among staff and students, and has resulted in several injuries since the school opened its doors in August 2015 in Fruitland.
Originally designed in 2013-2014 when the projected student enrollment was 988 students, the cafeteria has a capacity of 335 students. BMS currently has 1,058 students, and to accommodate the current overcrowding in the cafeteria, six extra tables have been added on the stage platform to provide enough seating for students. Bennett Middle School faculty and administrators say the current situation is concerning, and many parents agree. “My daughter told me she was often uncomfortable during lunch,” said BMS parent Heather Smith. “Because the seats are so close together if she leans back, she would accidentally bump into, or even elbow someone, and that could cause a confrontation. Plus, you have to walk sideways just to get to your seat.”
Superintendent Dr. Donna C. Hanlin says student safety is priority number one for WCPS. “After seeing what safety challenges are being caused in the cafeteria at Bennett Middle, it is necessary to prioritize this expansion for the start of the 2018-2019 school year,” said Dr. Hanlin. Enrollment at BMS could increase to more than 1,200 in the next 10 years, so the cafeteria expansion would address current and future enrollment demands.
The project requires the approval of the Wicomico County Board of Education. The cost of the project is $1.4 million, and the funding is already available, according to Leisl Ashby, WCPS Director of Facility Services for Planning & Construction. “We have the funds for the cafeteria expansion since the original construction of Bennett Middle came in under budget. This project would be completed without impacting other project priorities and their associated funding requests.”
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.
at 8/06/2017 05:58:00 AM