North East High School

FILE — Pictured here is North East High School, located on Irishtown Road in North East.

ELKTON — The Cecil County Public School Board approved sending out the educational specifications for the new North East Middle School/High School complex, to the state government on Wednesday.

“We’re looking forward to having shared spaces along with some cost savings associated with shared spaces,” said Perry Willis, executive director of support services at CCPS.

The building is estimated to cost over $155 million. The state government is estimated to contribute around $85.6 million, with the county government contributing $69.5 million. Construction is planned to begin in July 2023.

The middle school education specifications were already approved previously by the school board. The high-school education specifications laid out the needs for the building by program, including prospective staff, necessary furniture, and other plans, such as a greenhouse for the science program. Willis said the two schools will share a kitchen, that will serve two cafeterias, along with sharing a media center.

Bohemia Manor has a similar 6-12 concept but North East will serve a larger student body, with around 2,000 students.

“We are excited about the opportunity to further expand the middle school project to also include the high school,” stated County Executive Danielle Hornberger when the project was announced in July. “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.”

The new building, located on Irishtown Road will be around 275,000 square feet in total. Willis said he expects the building to be a 60/40 split between the high school and middle school, because of facilities like the gym and cafeteria being larger for the high school.

“We really build these buildings three times: we build them in words, then we build them in diagrams, and then we build them with bricks and sticks,” Willis said.

Superintendent Jeffrey Lawson credited County Executive Danielle Hornberger with the idea to create the combined middle/high school, instead of just building a new middle school.

“It’s a once in a generation sort of thing,” Lawson said.

Lawson said the architect, the firm Grimm & Parker, will use the educational specifications to begin to sketch out what the building will look like. Grimm & Parker recently completed a similar project, the Havre de Grace Middle/High School, in Harford County.

Willis also outlined recommended capital improvement projects for the next 10 years. The system hopes to replace, in order of priority, Thomson Estates Elementary, Cherry Hill Elementary, Elkton Middle School, Providence, and Elk Neck Elementary School. There are also smaller projects to replace the Elkton Middle School roof and create an addition to Rising Sun High School.

“We’ll work with county leadership to see what their appetite is in terms of scope and scale as we move forward on this,” Lawson said, referring to possible upcoming capital improvement projects. “Certainly we have some needs.”

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