NORTH EAST — Cecil County Public Schools and the County Government will now create a new Middle School/High School complex to replace the secondary schools in the North East. The new building, which will be next to the current NEHS on Irishtown Road, is set to surpass the Cecil County School of Technology as the largest CCPS building.

“Right now, our School of Technology is our largest building at about 190,000 square feet, this will be somewhere in the 250-260,000 square foot range,” Executive Director of support services Perry Willis, said.

Willis said the size of the building could change depending on negotiations with the state government.

Willis said the building will contain grades 6-12 in an entirely self-contained space, to the left of the current NEHS football stadium. Once the new building is complete the current NEHS will be torn down to create support space for the new school.

The building will be similar to Bohemia Manor, which has a similar 6-12 concept, though North East will serve a larger student body, with close to 2,000 students. Willis said the internal floor plan will separate the middle school from the high-school, but some shared spaces will exist.

The project could create a savings of 15-20% compared to if the buildings were built separately. Willis said the savings come from the ability to combine mechanical and other spaces, and a shorter time frame for construction compared to completing two separate buildings.

“We are excited about the opportunity to further expand the middle school project to also include the high school,” stated County Executive Danielle Hornberger. “This is such a unique opportunity for the County to save money while improving school infrastructure. It makes sense to maximize this project to its full potential.”

Superintendent Jeffrey Lawson said along with economic benefits, the new building could have a positive impact on the North East community.

“It allows a 10-year-old fifth grader to spend seven very formative important years, in the same building, in the same learning community, with the same teachers, and administrators,” Lawson said.

Lawson said if the project hadn’t been changed to a combined 6-12 school, a new high-school could have taken 10 years.

“To have an opportunity to be a part of this, towards the end of my career, it’s a once in a lifetime event,” Lawson said.

CCPS previously planned to construct a new middle school adjacent to current high school building. Architecture firm Grimm & Parker, who originally was selected to design the new middle school, will design the new middle/high school building. The firm recently completed a similar project, the Havre de Grace Middle/High School, in Harford County. The contract award with the firm was adjusted from $2.2M to $5.6M to accommodate the increased scope of the project.

The school board will vote on a new 2023 capital improvement budget that will include a request for the planning of the new complex in September. If approved, design can begin in 2022. The start date for the construction could be as early as 2023 with an anticipated 3 year construction schedule. Willis said there will be forums for community involvement, likely beginning this fall.

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