Silver Lake Elementary will be renovated, expanded as part of Appoquinimink School District's construction plan

Meredith Middle School, now 90 years old, will be demolished and replaced while the students are temporarily relocated to the new Odessa High School in the fall of 2020, according to plans by the Appoquinimink School District.

During initial conversations, district officials considered keeping the school’s exterior 3-story façade, but those plans were abandoned because of the “tremendous cost” involved in trying to structurally support the façade while the rest is demolished, said Robert Hershey, the district’s construction project manager.

It also was advantageous to move the new building closer to Broad Street, providing more constructible space, Hershey said.

The new Meredith Middle School will be open on the same site in the fall of 2022, according to the district’s transition timeline.

District officials also plan to renovate and expand Silver Lake Elementary School, but not demolish it. During the construction, students at Silver Lake will temporarily move to the new Cantwell’s Bridge Middle School in the fall of 2020.

Meredith Middle was former high school and grade 1-12 school

Meredith Middle School has had multiple additions, renovations and expansions since its original construction in 1928. When it opened, it was called Middletown School for first through 12th grade, and, years later, it became Middletown High School and then Everett Meredith Middle School, named after a former principal.

Reasons for demolition

The school is “literally built like a fortress with huge thick concrete, masonry, plaster and brick walls” and it “quickly became apparent that razing the existing structure and constructing a new facility was the best course of action for delivering that 21st century education,” Hershey said.

Nick Hoover, principal of Meredith, said he’s seen the number of students increase from 700 to 900 over his six-year tenure. “We use every single classroom. Every single space is used,” he said.

The school needs replacing because of its age, the need for more space, and to wire the building for internet usage, he said.

Hoover said the safety of the students is his top priority. There is no office or vestibule right inside the front doors. Staff at the office can buzz people in, but it’s easy for people to take the stairs to the second floor.

Also, the steps in the building are worn down. When it rains, the students bring in water on their feet, creating puddles on the steps.

Plans for Silver Lake Elementary

As for Silver Lake Elementary, the building “will be totally gutted on the interior to expand the current classroom sizes and multiple additions are anticipated but not set in stone to provide additional classrooms, a new multipurpose room, expansion to the cafeteria kitchen and library expansion,” Hershey said.

The building, built in 1973, was changed over the years to accommodate the growing student enrollment. The pods, where students could congregate together, are now used for classrooms, said Cyndi Clay, principal.

And the classrooms aren’t the typical size. Classroom size at the school are about 600-square-feet each compared to new classrooms, which are around 900-square-feet, she said.

The school has narrow hallways and the classrooms appear cramped with several students at one table with many tables per classroom. Clay said the school is at capacity with 24 classes for first through fifth grade.

Costs approved in referendum

Replacing Meredith Middle is estimated to cost $57.49 million and the renovation of Silver Lake Elementary is estimated at $29.85 million. Funding for the construction is made possible through a local referendum approved in 2016 by the voters and more funds from the state government.

District officials have lately been concentrating on plans for a new building which will house both Odessa High School and Cantwell’s Bridge Middle School on the Fairview Campus east of Odessa.

Both Meredith Middle and Silver Lake students will be temporarily in the new building, making it a priority.