The Headmaster of the St Vincent Grammar School (SVGS) has welcomed the extensive repairs being carried out at his school, saying once the work is complete, the environment will be significantly improved.
“The end product will be welcomed, which will be a 150 per cent improvement,” Colin Sam stated on Wednesday, during a visit by SEARCHLIGHT.
“Right now, it is a work in progress,” the Headmaster said.
On Wednesday, the compound was an active construction site, with dozens of workers from Gibson Construction Limited, Bally and Bally Investments and the Roads Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) working feverishly to finish in time for the beginning of the academic year.
However, late on Wednesday, Minister of Education, Curtis King announced the postponement of the re-opening of the SVGS, which this academic year has an enrolment of 615 boys.
The Minister did so while a guest on the Round Table Talk programme on VC3.
The 114-year-old school will now reopen on Monday, September 12, one week later than scheduled.
King said changes had to be made to the original scope of work at the SVGS “given what we saw when we went to do the repairs.”
He said contractors are “pulling out all the stops,” and all other schools in St Vincent and the Grenadines will reopen next Monday, September 5 as scheduled.
The school’s main building, which houses 19 classrooms, the staffroom, sports room and information technology laboratory, has been extensively repaired. The roof, doors and windows have all been changed, the building rewired, and cracks in the floor and walls repaired.
Extensive work has also been done on the wash rooms which now have functioning showers, toilets, urinals and washbasins.
A temporary wooden building, which formerly housed first formers was demolished to make way for a three-storey concrete structure, which will accommodate 12 classrooms, four of which are expected to be ready in time for the return of students on September 12.
Repairs are also being done to the science laboratories, tuck shop and assembly building.
During the last academic year, to allow for the repairs, the SVGS was housed in temporary buildings on the tarmac of the decommissioned E.T Joshua airport.
The school’s staff, with the help of BRAGSA were this week in the process of moving back to their permanent home.
On Wednesday, all the student furniture and contents of the staff room and laboratories had been moved back to the Richmond Hill site; all that was left at Arnos Vale when SEARCHLIGHT visited on Wednesday were the contents of the Headmaster’s office and the secretariat.
The SVGS is being repaired as part of a joint project between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The project, which had initially been estimated at EC$40 million, is now expected to cost in the region of EC$60 million, the prime minister said on radio on Wednesday.
The other schools earmarked for major repairs under the CDB project are the Girls’ High School, the Bequia Community High, St Clair Dacon, Thomas Saunders Secondary, Barrouallie Anglican Primary, Kingstown Anglican Primary, and Barrouallie Government School.
The Sandy Bay Secondary School will be reconstructed under the project.
The staff and students of the Girls’ High School will remain another year at their temporary home at Arnos Vale, as according to the prime minister, the work on their school building is “a real big project”.
Students of the Thomas Saunders Secondary School will move into the temporary buildings vacated by the SVGS at Arnos Vale, as repairs to their Richmond Hill based school compound, as well as the Bequia Community High School, will begin this month.
These repairs are separate from the general schools’ repair programme carried out by the government at the beginning of each school year.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Myccle Burke has assured that under the general programme, while some schools have minor issues, with the major areas of concern being plumbing and electrical, all other schools in the country will reopen on time.
He said BRAGSA has “an excellent team” and are “working above and beyond to deliver”.
“Everything is progressing well, so barring unforeseen circumstances, school will be ready for reopening on Monday, September 5,” Burke said while speaking on Round Table Talk on Wednesday.