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'One-Room School’ With $500,000 Repair Bill

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

THE Free National Movement (FNM) has questioned the $500,000 price tag of repairs to the “small, one-room” Rum Cay All Age School and alleged that the school contract was given to a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporter.

However, on Friday, a government official said the half a million dollars is being spent on repairs to a Family Island school that has not received any remedial work since its inception.

Lionel Sands, the director of education, told The Tribune that the Rum Cay All-Age School has not received any repairs since before former Governor General Sir Milo Butler attended the school in the early 1900s.

Two weeks ago, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald said the nine students currently attending the school in Rum Cay would be relocated and housed at one of the local churches until the completion of $500,000 worth of renovations.

Mr Fitzgerald said the Rum Cay All-Age School was one of two schools that required work that “extends beyond the opening of school.”

When questioned why such a high price tag was placed on such a relatively small school, Mr Sands explained: “Rum Cay is a school where nothing was done to it since Sir Milo Butler attended it.”

He added that the school’s overall structure, particularly the roof, is well overdue for repairs.

“The walls would be those thick, very strong walls but the roof and the other infrastructure, plumbing and all of that because obviously it’s very old, the plumbing and the electrical amenities would have to be dealt with also,” Mr Sands said.

However in a statement released yesterday, Brensil Rolle, former parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Housing, said the FNM was “stunned” by the price tag of the repairs for the tiny school.

“Our first impression was that the minister had made a mistake, so we contacted the local residents and they confirmed that this was indeed the case,” the FNM’s statement said. “We were further informed that the contract for repairs of the school was issued to a PLP general who lives in San Salvador, consequently sub contracting the works to a resident of Rum Cay.

“While we support the effort to repair this school we have some serious reservations about the monies spent for the repairs. So we have dispatched an agent to provide us with an update on this situation.”

The FNM’s statement added: “We regard as interesting the commentary and the expressions of disgust at the notion that such a school would cost the government as much as all of the repairs to schools in Grand Bahama last year combined. We think this is indeed troubling and needs further investigations.

“It is the view of the FNM that based upon costing obtained when we were last in office that it would have cost less than half of the $500,000 announced by Minister Fitzgerald. Consequently, we urge the minister to produce the scope of works for the repair of this school and make it public for all Bahamians to see so that he can clear his name, and resuscitate the damaged reputation both of his ministry and the Ministry of Public Works.”

The FNM also criticised Minister Fitzgerald for failing to complete school repairs throughout the country in time for the start of the new school year last week.

“Too many schools in the Family Islands and New Providence, remain ‘construction zones’, with ongoing work, noise and debris in the school yard, while students are expected to settle down and focus on getting an education,” the statement said, citing Long Island, Inagua and Crooked Island as examples.

“The truth of the matter is that in the case of the E P Roberts Primary School, the students of Englerston are unable to safely attend school due to the extensive construction and renovation works still ongoing in the school,” the FNM’s statement added. “(Minister of Education Jerome) Fitzgerald and the PLP have totally dropped the ball, and failed the children of the Englerston constituency.

“In A F Adderley and Government High, the students are in a panic, they fear that the guard rails would collapse at any moment and students may suffer serious physical injuries in the schools. Additionally, electric fixtures are exposed and fans are falling from the ceilings in classrooms.

“The government started to build a pre-school off Cowpen Road, construction on the building had stopped completely because the contractor has not been paid. Consequently, the school has not been opened and the students have been housed in a church in the area.”

The party said in addition to ongoing repairs, there is a reported desk and chair shortage in public schools. The opposition party condemned the government for its “lack of foresight and planning” in education.

Comments

birdiestrachan 3 years, 2 months ago

If Bensil Rolle knew that the school would have cost half as much to repair. when they were in office. Why did they not repair the school? why did they leave it undone? But yet he talks about fore sight. it seems their only problem is that a PLP got the contract and not an FNM.

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jackbnimble 3 years, 2 months ago

So how do you justify the price tag? Are they knocking down the entire building and starting over? Sounds like the funds could be used to build a brand new school for cheaper. PLP or FNM sounds like cronyism in action.

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licks2 3 years, 2 months ago

As usual. . .you missed the "forest for the trees". Must be hard being that "blind" huh? Carry on smartly chile!! Lol!

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DonAnthony 3 years, 2 months ago

Was this contract put out to tender? Who received this contract , we taxpayers deserve to know? How is it possible that it cost $ 500,000 to renovate one large classroom and a bathroom? An entire new building could be constructed for half that. Again we the taxpayers get ripped off. We should seriously consider a voucher program for education in this country. Give each parent a voucher to educate their child at the private school of their choice and disband completely the bureaucratic nightmare that the ministry of education is. Our students would have better test scores, a better school environment, and save taxpayers millions of dollars. New Orleans did it after hurricane Katrina and it has worked.

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DillyTree 3 years, 2 months ago

A one room school with bathroom could be built for a quarter of the half million claimed. And for 9 students? Surely there is a building that can be rented for far less than that sum?

I'm guessing that since the contract was awarded to someone on San Salvador who then subcontracted the contract to someone else in Rum Cay that everyone has to get their cut along the way...business as usual.

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asiseeit 3 years, 2 months ago

I wonder if this was their private funds, if they would still think this was a good deal? Only a complete idiot would spend their hard earned money in such a manner. Thing is, government does not work for the money, they just steal it from the citizens, so they do not give one hoot if it is squandered and wasted. Birdie, this is your grand children's money that is being thrown away, but I doubt you can understand that or even care. What a sad situation this country has become, I hang my head in shame.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 2 months ago

Now this is a case for Chippie and the PAC to investigate ......... a school of this size could be built for $100,000 with money to spare for desks and chairs ......... who is the PLP fooling???

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YesiJed 3 years, 2 months ago

Your VAT dollars being put to good use...spending 5 times what the job is worth .

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BoopaDoop 3 years, 2 months ago

So the justification for the $500,000 is that the repairs are overdue? Good lawd!! It must be ok then since the cost of the repairs were added each year they weren't carried out. Next year it would be another $100,000 added on. We should be grateful that the money is being spent now.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 2 months ago

Sooooooo, if you use that logic, Long island Airport should cost $100 million since the PLP hasn't done any work to that since Pop Symonette built it back in 1964............. the PLP politicians are just criminals in coat suits.

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The_Oracle 3 years, 2 months ago

Used to hold school under shade trees, that worked fine. Seriously, someone needs to correlate all these Government "works" into $/Sq Ft so the ordinary folks have some reference to see how badly they're being ripped off! Grand Bahama Fire station is at $530 odd/Sq Ft WITHOUT fire station specific equipment. That'll be years in arriving, like COB Northern Bahamas furniture. If Ever. Maybe we can all just take our fires there to be put out. As they have dismantled all of the mechanisms for redress/prosecution/accountability all that is left is public outrage, which must've left decades ago as it still hasn't shown up. This pseudo Outrage shown by whomever is in opposition is as transparent as whomever is raiding the cookie jar! Wait your turn ! Their biggest fear these days is the jar is damn near empty, full of holes and neither crew want to meet the jar empty.

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CatIslandBoy 3 years, 2 months ago

A half million dollars! If this wasn't so ridiculously pathetic, it could be quite humorous. And Birdie will defend these guys no matter what they do. I guess that is how they keep being re-elected.

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BoopaDoop 3 years, 2 months ago

I remember the Saunders Beach restrooms a few years back costing almost a half million as well.

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

There needs to be an investigation as to why a certain business owned and operated by family of a PLP MP is getting more than the lions share of clothing and uniform assistance vouchers from the Department of Social Services. Of course Nassau has sandy beaches and the environment has to be protected.

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 2 months ago

Cat Island boy at least you do not cuss me. I love Cat Island especially Port Howe. What a beautiful place. Now Think about this none of us really know what work will be done at the school. It use to be a one room school with no light and no bath rooms. Plus Rum Cay will do well with a hurricane shelter. Now Cat island Boy some of the smartest people in the world come from Cat island. and do they believe that, I often wonder where did they get that idea, from their teachers or their parents. Now I want you to show some smarts, if you are really from Cat Island wish the children and the people of Rum cay well. I do believe there should be checks and balances and no money should be wasted or stolen.

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Abaconian 3 years, 2 months ago

Birdie, no one is upset by the fact that a school in Rum Cay is being repaired. People are upset, however, by the fact that there is no way in hell that the job costs $500,000. Even if they are planning on knocking the entire thing down, and building a new one, I sincerely doubt that it would cost so much. Furthermore, and for arguments sake, let's assume that the entire $500,000 is spent in good faith towards repairing the school (highly unlikely), do you really believe it to be fiscally sensible to spend $500,000 dollars on a school that houses only 9 pupils? Seriously? I don't mean to offend the people of Cat Island, but there are schools all over this country with 50x the amount of pupils that are in desperate need of just ONE QUARTER the amount of money being spent on Rum Cay All Age School. Whatever way you look at it, it makes no sense. You would see this if you didn't have your PLP blinders on.

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 2 months ago

What about a library at the Rum Cay School. Do you folks think those children deserve that?

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 2 months ago

What if the sky were green and the grass was blue? A library would have been great if it was covered, but it wasn't. The 500,000 was just for "repairs". It will probably repair someone's bank account nicely. Just in time for campaign 2017. All they need now are tshirts to roll the money in.

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truetruebahamian 3 years, 2 months ago

So a plp general in San Salvador gets the government contract for a school in Rum Cay, sub contracts it out to a Rum Cay builder and probably pockets $450,000.00 for himself. Transparency please, and no 'creative' accounting.

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BoopaDoop 3 years, 2 months ago

If there was an audit done, it would be by a PLP accountant who would be paid well to say that the repairs were actually under budget.

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shortpants 3 years, 2 months ago

The walls would be those thick, very STRONG walls ,so the only things that needs to be repair is the roof along with the plumbing and the electrical amenities . So where is the rest of the money going .PLP getting mad because finally we are being awoken from our sleep one by one and asking questions ,remember they don't like people questioning them they run this not us. Hey Mr. MP lemme see your bank book' .

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 2 months ago

Who is the MP for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador??????.... Brave Davis

Who is the Minister of Public Works?????? ....... Brave Davis

Who is the king of kickbacks and political favours????? ......... Brave Davis

Who feels pressure to be re-elected and become the next PM??????? ....... Brave Davis

Who would issue a no-bid contract to a general like this??? ....... Brave Davis

Who would have no problem with justifying this contract for the good of "his people"???... Brave Davis

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CatIslandBoy 3 years, 2 months ago

Birdie, I will always respectfully allow you to have your opinion in support of whatever this government does while painfully disagreeing with you. No one disagrees with you on the importance of a good education for the Rum Cay Nine, but a staggering half million dollars only for repairing a small dilapidated building is an excessive amount. A much larger, modern, steel structure could be erected for much less.

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dahasamo 3 years, 2 months ago

Three students have moved away. There are 6 left.

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DillyTree 3 years, 2 months ago

Yes, but since we can only achieve a D grade in Maths, 9 - 3 still equals 9.

$50, 000 to repair the roof strikes me as a more reasonable number. So, boys and girls, who can tell me what $500,000 - $50,000 equals? Yep, that is called kickbacks.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 2 months ago

Now the Minister of Education (the oil slick man) defending Brave ........ hmmmmm

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