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Family Island schools: Three aren’t ready

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Anthony Newbold

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net 

THREE Family Island schools will have delayed openings, with no definite date for when repairs will be completed, press secretary Anthony Newbold revealed yesterday. 

These are the Holmes Rock school in Grand Bahama, Lowe Sound School in Andros and Staniel Cay School in the Exumas.

The repairs for schools in New Providence such as Eva Hilton and AF Adderley are expected to continue through the first few months of the term, but the schools will open on time, Mr Newbold said.

On Monday, Progressive Liberal Party chairman Fred Mitchell castigated the Minnis administration for the way it has handled school repairs.

Education Director Marcellus Taylor yesterday responded to Mr Mitchell’s statement, elaborating on the process and suggesting school maintenance be conducted year-round, as opposed to the “flawed model” of conducting repairs solely during the eight-week summer period.

“Generally speaking, schools are going to be open,” Mr Newbold said.

“In San Salvador, all the works there are complete, just waiting for the occupancy certificate. At Eva Hilton here in Oakes Field, the computer lab will be completed at the end of September as will the Pavilion. The library (is) scheduled to be completed at the end of October. 

“CH Reeves is complete. Thelma Gibson complete except for some electrical works, which will not stop these schools from opening. There is still some work to be done at AF Adderley, but that school should also open. 

“Now the Holmes Rock school in Grand Bahama, the Lowe Sound school in Andros, and Staniel Cay in Exumas, those schools’ works (are) still in progress. They’re not complete as yet. We don’t have a definite date on when they will be complete. But the work is going well there.” 

When asked by reporters about a timeline, Mr Newbold said “there is no timeline” and added: “They don’t have a specific time when they’re going to be open because they need to complete them. They don’t have a definite date for those to be open.” 

Mr Newbold noted those students have been relocated to other institutions, where they will remain until the works are completed.

The press secretary also said there is “no significant teacher shortage to speak of”.

Regarding teachers, Mr Taylor said the Department of Education is “confident” schools are staffed sufficiently to be able to open. He added plans are in place to ensure safety in the schools where repairs are ongoing. 

Referencing Mr Mitchell’s comments that school repairs did not start until August 23, Mr Taylor said the construction at Eva Hilton specifically began around the time of the Easter break. 

However, Mr Taylor admitted: “It does appear that contracts were issued late and it does appear that the time left for certain contracts to be initiated is very short.

“I think in general we have to move away from the maintenance all coming in the six to eight-week period in the summer.”

He elaborated that government processes such as tendering and vetting, while necessary, are time-consuming. 

“And so just trying to wait for this eight-week period is kind of not a sustainable approach. And so I think what we really need to look at is how we engage in a year-round process of doing some of this maintenance and upkeep,” Mr Taylor said.

“This systematic, annual ritual of talking about getting schools ready and trying to do everything in eight weeks is in itself almost a flawed model. And all governments have used it.” 

Mr Taylor said while there may be a lot of repairs, most of them are “minor” and can be taken care of on weekends.  

“So, you could probably do them spread across the year so that there isn’t this big mad rush or it isn’t this thing where it’s like a clock ticking away if you don’t get it done today,” he said.

Comments

Dawes 4 years, 5 months ago

Every year, doesn't matter who's in power it's the same

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BONEFISH 4 years, 5 months ago

Have we ever had a smooth opening for the public schools?

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Clamshell 4 years, 5 months ago

Every year the government seems shocked, in August, that schools are supposed to reopen.

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Islandboy242242 4 years, 5 months ago

Hmmmmm.... Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd warned yesterday as he urged Bahamians to be more accountable. “Everybody is accountable. The Bahamian people ought to understand that they, too, are accountable and there’s a responsibility of being a citizen in this country and everything else,”

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