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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.


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Parkside High Had the Same Problem, And you know what they did??? No Addition to the Cafeteria, but they just added an additional lunch shift. There 4 lunch shifts, the first 3 lunch shifts are 25 minutes, last lunch is 20 minutes. Each class period is 50 minutes. 4th period is a little longer due to thats when we have lunch shifts.

Jim said...


Help me out here.. this is the wonderful NEW Bennett Middle School that doesn't have enough cafeteria space?

And how much did it cost??

Anonymous said...

Really poor planning when in 2 years after opening they are overcrowded and have to expand. Some HEADs need to roll at the BOE.

Anonymous said...

Also a danger is the former administration's decision to block off multiple staircases throughout the school and make ALL the students use one single one.

Anonymous said...

Why not just expand the lunch periods into 4 shifts? Take that money and put it into bettering the education of ALL the children in Wicomico County.

Anonymous said...

I remember eating lunch at Wi Middle in a crowded lunch room and the reason was because the tables were so huge. Half the table wasn't even used and we were all packed in there like sardines.

The BOE needs to go to the school and figure out the problem. I can assure you that they don't need a $1.5M renovation for a cafeteria in a place that is feeding our children an education.

Really, with all the problems in public schools they want to fix the size of the cafeteria? God help this generation.

Anonymous said...

You would think they could enclose the outdoor area for cheaper than $1.5 mil so it could be used year round instead of just building on an addition..

Anonymous said...

How about you make all the kids on special permission go back to the schools in districts where they live! Won't cost 1 cent.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a situation at Mardela. The school has been in existence since 1937 and finally has gotten a track for the track team to run on. But wait, the county cut the funding, so all that is needed to make it official- rubberization, pits, bleachers, etc has all been cut. So we have a nice asphalt track, but according to the rules the track team cannot host a track meet. This did not even come from the board of ed, it came from the county council. Its really disheartening that the board of education has not found the money to complete this project. Do the kids at Mardela not deserve the same type facilities as city schools? So even though this is not a curriculum matter in any way, the overcrowding at BMS isn't either.

Anonymous said...

maybe get rid of the illegals and there won't be an overcrowding issue?

Anonymous said...

Yep! And the kids don't have enough time to get through the lunch line let alone eat. Why is Bennett getting so much NEW stuff and extra considerations? Parkside has just as many students, if not more! Start cracking down on the FAKE special permissions and giving special treatment to BOE employees' kids! No doctor's note, you go to your home school! Period!

Anonymous said...

And this ladies and gentlemen is a prime example of the rocket scientists we have operating our taxpayer funded schools. What happened to common sense on the Wicomico County Board of Education. The funding for this expansion should be deducted from the stipend that the "board" members receive. Can you say elected board of education? Vote out the current lazy group.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be a good idea if someone would go check the specs right now for the school under construction on West Road to make sure the cafeteria is big enough. I would hate for the Boe to come back 2 years after it opens and say they need an addition. SMH.

Anonymous said...

$1.4 million to move a wall and build a shed roof over it? Overcrowded after the first year? Did the BOE not know how many 4th and 5th graders there were when they built the damned place?

These are questions that need to me asked and included in the plans for the next boondoggle of a school!

Cinnamon Girl said...

This is just one money pit after another. The WBOE is like an endless well expecting money to be fed continuously. Notice none of this big budget money goes towards kids actually learning anything. Instead of building on to the existing building why don't they add an extra lunch shift or two to keep the cafeteria from overcrowding at any one time? Oh wait, that's Common Sense. I forgot the WBOE doesn't have that so they wouldn't think to time manage as opposed to coming back to the taxpayers for more more and more mula to build, build and build! For educators they aren't so bright.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. They knew the school was not going to be large enough to start with!! Smh...

Anonymous said...

More waste at the taxpayers' expense. Ridiculous. Add more lunch shifts and quit looking at taxpayers to foot bills for things like cafeteria expansions when you just got a new school. This is tax abuse in the worse way. This request should be flatly denied and they should use ingenuity to solve their own space problem. By adding two extra lunch shifts they would cut down how many kids are in the cafeteria at one time substantially. WCBOE use your damn brains for something other than a hat rack and quit fleecing taxpayers!