Sussex Tech to Build New School Instead of Spending on High Maintenance Costs

After spending millions of dollars over the years on renovating and repairing a more than half-century old school building, Sussex Technical School District’s school board unanimously voted to build a new Sussex Technical High School in Delaware. After a five-month independent review, consultants ABHA/BSA+A made recommendations for major improvements including:

  • essential security upgrades;
  • improved traffic flow along U.S. 9 and on campus; and
  • improved, upgraded, and flexible space for technical area classrooms to accommodate industry-standard equipment and technologies.

The district considered three options for improvements. The cost of building a new school at $150.5 million was more affordable than the other two options — renovating the oldest sections of the campus while continuing repairs on the newer sections or renovating the entire campus. The plan aims to bolster Sussex County’s career-technical education programs for both high school students and adult learners.

“Sussex County taxpayers trust us to be good stewards of their money, and building a new school saves taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.” said District Superintendent Stephen Guthrie in a press release on the school’s website. “Over the last year, under new leadership, we have put a renewed emphasis on our core career-technical programs to better serve Sussex County,”

The main high school building was built in 1960 with other sections built in 1964, 1970, 1995, 2000 and 2008. Over the last few years, Sussex Tech has spent about $14 million on maintenance and improvements including repairs to roofs, renovations of student career-technical areas, security installations and an HVAC overhaul.

“Those costs will rise as the campus continues to age. Our engineering consultant has concluded that renovation is only a Band-Aid solution – paying good money for what is only a temporary fix,” Guthrie said.

The current school is about 294,000 square feet, including the main building and about 20 outbuildings. The new building would be about 313,000 square feet. The building would have a capacity for 1,600 students to accommodate growing student interest.

Specific plans and designs for the new building and campus layout would be designed after the state approves the project.

About the Author

Yvonne Marquez is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].