Construction to repair William Henry Middle School could begin in May

The school was damaged in August after a tropical storm

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DOVER — An estimated $9.1 million will be needed to repair William Henry Middle School after damage from Tropical Storm Isaias condemned the building in August and displaced nearly a thousand students. 

Storm-related damage repairs total $8.5 million, Carl Krienen, an associate from ABHA Architects, said at a Capital School District board meeting Wednesday.

It is expected insurance will cover storm-related expenses, said Adewunmi Kuforiji, interim assistant superintendent. The insurance office will also lead the effort on the repair work, coordinating all the contractors and vendors required, he said. 

Capital must seek funding for the nonstorm-related damages, he added, which are estimated to be $612,560. Mr. Kuforiji said the district still must work with insurance to agree on the assessment of what is considered storm damage.

The total repair costs include all design, permitting and construction charges; assumes reuse of existing furnishings; and includes contingency allowance, according to the presentation.

State and insurance approvals are anticipated to be completed by March 1, with construction beginning in May and extending through August. Classrooms would be ready by Aug. 15; the gym and theater would be complete by Oct. 15. The dates may vary based on state and insurance approvals, Mr. Krienen said.

“We've got to keep on top of this each step of the way,” board member Dr. Tony DePrima said. 

Mr. Kuforiji agreed.

“Time is of the essence,” he said. “We really don't have time to waste.”

William Henry Middle School, located on Carver Road in Dover, serves 1,100 fifth and sixth grade students in the district. It has been unoccupied since it was struck and significantly damaged by the tropical storm in August. It had been serving as a location for the district’s summer school program at the time. 

When Isaias careened through Delaware in August, it hit William Henry hard. The roof over the gym was destroyed, allowing for rain to fall in the building. Other leaks were found throughout the school as a result of the storm, creating significant water damage across the northern section of the building. The school itself was “contorted,” causing stress fractures in the brick and structural problems.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Sylvia Henderson called the last seven months “a rather laborious process.”

“No other district in the state of Delaware has had to go through this, and so this was the first time for the state and particularly Capital School District,” she said, thanking all who have helped the district get to this point. “The work that went into the past seven months — this has taken up a lot of our time, and not to mention that we're in a pandemic.”

Capital School District is operating on hybrid instruction. William Henry Middle School students and staff are currently sharing a building with Central Middle School.