A failure to repair the school over the summer break led to a protest on opening day by concerned parents on Moore’s Island, who kept their children home.
Concerns were raised days before school opened when the head of the PTA, Ganvia Stuart Johnson posted pictures of the disrepair at the school. She said she had made numerous calls to the Ministry of Education and felt she was getting nowhere.
It was noted that the kindergarten class room has not had running water for some time, about half of the toilets and sinks in the other girls and boys bathrooms were not working, there was mold in the bathroom, the premises hadn’t been mowed or weeded and was overgrown.
Parents in Moore’s Island, bearing placards, staged a protest at the all-age school, holding placards that said “Fix our bathrooms now” and “classrooms hot, we need air conditions now” among others expressing concern over the condition of the school’s campus and classrooms.
Photos of cracked tiles, exposed light switches and deteriorating bathroom stalls were shared via Facebook.
Education Director Lionel Sands expressed a level of grief over the “avoidable” nature of the issues and said that officials were monitoring a situation in Moore’s Island.
According to a source repairs were mobilized just days before the school was to open and the contractor had to acquire supplies then have them shipped to Moors Island further delaying the process.
According to Mr. Sands, once the issue was acknowledged, officials offered parents on the island an assurance that the repairs would reconvene on Monday and be concluded shortly thereafter. “The repairs are being carried out as we speak,” he said.
He added that the needed supplies were purchased in the United States on Friday, and would have been shipped to the island for use by yesterday.
“The contractor is on the job correcting plumbing issues at the school. One bathroom facility is affected by this ordeal. There are several other bathrooms that can be used in the interim,” he added.
When asked why the repairs were carried out so late, Mr. Sands deferred comment to the Ministry of Works.
“I cannot answer any questions on why repairs are being carried out this close to school as the Ministry of Works is responsible for all school repairs across the country.”
In August, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald indicated that school repairs faced major setbacks due to an unexplained halt in the Ministry of Works’ annual “scope of repairs” report.
The Marathon MP proposed that repairs would cut “very close” to the start of school.
Mr. Fitzgerald contended at that point, that his ministry, to offset any further delay, was forced to hand out contracts without having a chance to evaluate their need – “to see what was a want as oppose to a need,” he said.
Operational procedures mandate that the Ministry of Education receive the “scope of repairs report” by May, allowing officials to award contracts by the middle of June.
However, this year, officials were not given the document until July.
There were no other major issues reported by the Department of Education to mark the start of the new academic year.