With the coming of a new year will also be the coming of construction crews to begin work on the new Rehoboth Elementary School.
Work is scheduled to begin in January on the 92,000-square-foot building on the same 25-acre site as the current school. The school will open in fall 2019.
Brian Bassett, director of capital projects for Cape Henlopen School District, said construction bids will be opened Tuesday, Jan. 9, and site work and installation of construction fencing will begin.
Bassett said the construction will take place from January through August 2019. The second phase of the project will be demolition of the old school buildings, from August to October 2019. Bassett said the school district may have to come back to the city for a variance in order to work through the summer.
District representatives have said throughout the site plan review process that the new school will follow the same design as Love Creek and the new H.O. Brittingham. Like at Love Creek, the new Rehoboth elementary will have a playground with a rubberized surface and open space that can be converted to an outdoor ampitheater, where outdoor movies and other events could take place. Two athletic fields and basketball and pickleball courts are planned. Bassett said the new schools were built to use a lot of natural light, which research suggests improves students’ outlook on learning. Classrooms are grouped into pods by grade level, sharing common area. Bassett said this pod structure allows classes to work together and for students to work outside the classroom. He said the pods help with security as well, since each pod can be locked down in case of an emergency.
Each of the new elementary schools has unique features, and Bassett said the new Rehoboth elementary will be no exception. He said the district plans to use some of the bricks from the old school as part of the entrance sign and walkway around the new building. Bassett said the district will also save the sign on the older of the two school buildings that reads “Rehoboth Public School” and use is as part of an archway leading to the new school. He said the district also plans to use benches that look similar to Rehoboth’s Boardwalk benches.
Bassett said during construction the public will continue to have access to the Silver Lake foot bridge, commonly referred to as Turtle Bridge; the lake will not be disturbed during construction, he said.
There will be a separate construction vehicle entrance off State Road, and the area where the new school will be built will be cordoned off, Bassett said. He said construction will not occur on weekends, and the district will try to reduce noise as much as possible. Updates on the progress of the new school will be provided at the school board’s monthly meetings and on the district’s website.
Rehoboth elementary dates to 1939, when the main building, which contains the auditorium, was built. An addition was built in 1952 and the building was renovated in 1986. The smaller building, which now contains the main office, was built in 1959, with an addition in 2007.
Bassett said the school district has maximized the space in the two buildings, with as many spaces as possible converted to classrooms to accommodate the growing student body. The new school will be able to handle a maximum of 720 students, although district officials have said about 630 students will end up attending,