(Dated March 17)
I want to talk to you about something important to all parents: your child's school. But in today's context, I'm speaking of the school building itself: the bricks and mortar, the roof, HVAC systems, furniture, classrooms, restrooms, and how such a school facility relates to the community in which it resides.
With support from the Board of Education, Dorchester County Public Schools has embarked on a countywide study, looking at our facilities and how they can provide the best instructional opportunities to our students and staff as we move through the 21st century. This has never been attempted on this scale in DCPS history and I am proud of our efforts in implementing this study.
To be effective and successful, we have identified five major groups to be involved in this study: a steering committee, planning team, Community Design Team, Board of Education and County Council members and, of course, you, the Dorchester County community. The Community Design Team is our biggest group and has the task of using six three-hour workshops to determine the best school characteristics to support our students, from age 3 to grade 12, keeping instruction, efficiency and fiscal responsibility at the forefront of every decision.
Through our first round of meetings, it is apparent that our open space elementary schools, built in the mid-70s to early 80s, are incompatible to student and staff success in 2023. When you consider school safety as well, these buildings present more challenges than any of our buildings in keeping our students and staff safe.
We feel that our present elementary schools will be among the next countywide priority for remodeling or consolidation or a newly constructed elementary school — or a combination of all of these. That is the great part about this study — this is the most comprehensive visionary journey that Dorchester County has ever undertaken with community involvement, and I look forward to the results, with recommendations to be presented to me as superintendent and the Board of Education in May or early June for next steps.
Where you can be most helpful as a parent, staff member, student or community member, is to attend our public open forums, where work completed by the Community Design Team will be presented, so you can comment and give your thoughts on next steps. Talk to your friends and neighbors about this important process and encourage them to participate.
There will be a public open forum in mid-April, with more to follow in early May. These will be advertised in advance through our website and social media, and I hope to see as many of you as possible at one of these meetings.
Superintendent of Dorchester County Public Schools