Cost cuts sought on schools

| 01/07/2009

(CNS): The new education minister, Rolston Anglin, has said that he will be seeking ways to cut the government’s bill for the total costs of the two new high schools. He told CNS that as the construction costs could not really be reduced he would be seeking a way to find significant savings in the fit-out and interiors.  Billed as state-of-the-art facilities by the previous minister, Anglin has described many of the features as “extravagances". He said therewere several examples that he was hearing about where the design is calling for unnecessary and extremely expensive features that are not even practical.

Anglin said that while the buildings themselves might have been expensive, the biggest costs will come in the fit-outs and the interior, and he noted that were several things that could be addressed and he intended to do his best to save money for the public purse. “I have not gotten to grips fully with all of the challenges we face with the schools yet but we intend to look very closely at all the features and make sure we are getting value for money,” he said.

Speaking on the floor of the Legislative Assembly, Anglin had said the government had absolutely no choice but to continue with the schools, particularly on the John Gray Campus as the existing school was already suffering as a result of the onsite construction. He said, however, that there were issues that could be addressed and costs cut.

He noted that he had been told the design at the Clifton Hunter School in Frank Sound calls for a recording studio and he questioned if that was necessary. He said there were two studios on island already that could be utilized. And he also noted he wanted to see what this “open space learning” was really going to look like.

Speaking to CNS after Monday’s debate, Anglin explained that he would be examining the school features in detail and removing what he said were extravagances. He also said that the government was likely to face increased costs because of plan changes. Contradicting what the former minister, Alden McLaughlin, had said about the alleged $17 million overruns, Anglin said there had been many changes. He said there were many smaller ones and at least three more major changes. “One change alone could be as much as $3 million,” he said, adding that the former minister’s staff must not have briefed him properly if he did not think there were any significant changes.

Anglin did state that a legal team was involved, but he said the dispute was not over the fact that significant changes had been made but the actual costs of those change orders made by the previous administration.

Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said in his statement on 12 June that there could be as much as $17 million in overruns on the schools, a figure which developer Hunter Jones, of Tom Jones International, said was the worst case scenario but certainly possible. McLaughlin has said, however, that there is no way that changes of such magnitude had been made and just because the developer says so it does not mean it is true.

Category: Headline News

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I saw Alden on TV the other night and i was ashamed. He actually had the gaul to say that he built the two multi million high schools to house 2000 students and that if only one school had been built he did not want to be the person repsonsible for deciding which 1000 students got the priviledge of attending and which 1000 would not! Truly amazing statement.

    For example …When the New Prospect primary was built some students got to attand there tbut the rest had to continue at the old GT primary, rd bay primary and so on.

    Mr Alden since you seem you seem to have been thwarted by this so called delemna that would have made your life so difficult  – let me help you out.  Since there was not enough money to build both of these way over the top fancy schools at the same time – you build two 30 million dollar schools instead of two 60 million dollar schools. If your ego would not allow you to be reasonable with the elaborate monument to yourself, then you build one for now.  

    and to answer your own question – you build the the cliifton Hunter school and the students that would be allowed there would be taken from the eastern districts ie east end, North side and Bodden town.

    Please Alden dont shame us anymore with these types of comments.

  2. Anonymous says:

    the first classeoom is in the home …………………………………..

    nuff said

  3. Anonymous says:

     

    Hey Rolston…I think you should cut deeper into the Civil Service…Lets cut as many of those dead beats as we can and secure funding for Education.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The simple truth lies in the previous government’s lack of faith in thier own educational professionals.  They were misled by consultants overseas who are currently nowhere to be found.  I guess they came, they convinced the then government to build new fancy schools which brought in more architectural consultants and more consultants on future schools.  How foolish we are to sacrifice the PRESENT for the future. 

    It amazes me that those who are supposed to be well learnt in the field of educational leadership has grounded the future of education in high-tech expensive buildings.   It makes me wonder what their idea of education is.  What are they teaching the young people anyway?  Fiscal irresponsibility?  Buy an expensive car and borrow to gas it up! 

    We have to move away from the politics mentality.  We can no longer act on the grounds of political favors.  We must be reponsible to the people by not just merely doing what they ask, but doing what is necessary to sustain them.  In the long run, when things start to go wrong, they will ultimately blame you for their misfortune. It appears as if that was what happened to the PPM.

    True learning can take place any where; in a hut, under a tree, at your doorsteps or at the library.  It is essential that the Ministry of Education re-focus the important elements in education before it is too late; the teacher, the student and the essential and affordable resource materials to support teaching and learning.  Unfortunately, I don’t think an expensive building is essential.  If the consultants believe that we can learn in an open space, then we perhaps don’t need a building anyway.  What is more open than outside of a building?  I think we all should ponder these things!

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe when the local professionals voiced their concerns they were told to shut up.

  5. anonymous says:

    What i’m waiting to hear is how much the new Government Offices are costing us and when the UDP is going to enforce some cost cutting there….they are eager tohalt as much as possible with the Schools but not a word about the new offices being built for Government to occupy. Guess that must be the only thing the PPM has done right then! Not a squeak out of UDP about this one…..I guess must be because it’s not the Caymanian children benefitting from this one! I’m sure if they look closely some costs could be cut on those plush offices the PPM has started for them! But that’s wishful thinking……it’s all about the UDP and that’s final…

  6. Makam says:

    Again we are getting throw away comments without any substantial facts!!!

    As usual we can not get a straight answer from th UDP or their cronies, all we get is "The fault lies with the last goverment"

    Where are the facts??  The UDP blamed the last government for spending so much and then tell us they need to borrow a tremendous amount so that they can cover their spending for the next few months. What for are we goimg to buy more land (owned by who knows who?) to build another folly like Botswain Beach, whichrather than help build the future of our country is having a negative impact on our economy and tourism. Whoops I forgot that dose not count after all it was built by the UDP in West Bay!!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      The UDP was correct to blame the PPM for spending too much, and that now obligates the UDP to to have to borrow more.

      What else would you do but borrow if your income decreases (like it did for at least 1000 caymanians that loss their jobs while PPM was in office) and your expenses increase – and don’t dare say "go into your reserves", because if the PPM wasn’t obligated under the law to have a 90 day reserve, you can bet they would have spent that as well.

      Had the PPM actually engaged in capital projects that generate revenue – even something as novel as Kurt’s short-lived idea about the oil transfer off the coast of Cayman Brac that -then the circumstance might have changed. But schools are good – we all should have our own -but they don’t make money.

      PPM has destroyed the country’s finances.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Contract Changes Explained

    Changes in construction contracts usually come from three main sources. 1) The owner asked for a change, which can either be an addition or a deduction. 2) The drawings were not clear or missed relevant information which when clarified caused a change in the contract or 3) site conditions/events beyond the control of the contractor causes a change. example when digging the foundations the contractor runs into an archeological find. All changes are also accompanied by a change in contract time–in many cases the change does not extend the time just the cost. In some cases however the change also adds contract time to the project- following the example above would necessitate a historical team coming in and doing research, photos, etc.

    Changes after initiated are followed by the contractor are followed by a claim for what are called “extras”. There are some changes that reduce the cost and in those cases the Architect usuallyrequest price reduction information from the contractor.

    It is standard practice in construction contracts to identify the method of resolution of these changes if there a conflict. First off the Architect, with QS if part of team, is usually first to make a decision as to the validity and value of the cost of a change- this is done after the contractor requests the change. If the contractor and/or owner is dissatisfied with that process, most contracts will have arbitration clauses which will allow a negotiated process to occur. In the most adversarial conditions, the contractor or the owner takes the other party to court with a claim. There are remedies within the contract for either party who believes that the other is in breach. In the case of the owner not paying for works the contractor can stop working. If the owner believes that the work is incorrect or faulty then they can stop payments.

    Now given the information given out so far it does seem strange that lawyers are already in the picture as they normally show up at last resort. Alden is correct to say that just because the contractor claims it does not mean it is so however Rolston makes a valid point that Alden may not have known about the changes- sometimes these changes are mandatory (meeting a missed building code issue or meeting a required specification not on the drawings).

    What we have here are school buildings that have no separating classroom walls, built in ‘pods’ that are sread out over large areas,that have very expensive items such as recording studios and the likes and are designed in buildings that are outrageously expensive-from the large internal volumes that have to be cooled to the expansive hurricane glass. These schools are basically set in cost at this time and changing specifications or trying to remove items such as studio equipment is not really going to achieve any significant cost saying–the projects are too far along now. These will be the lasting failed legacy of Alden McLaughlin, plain and simple. Many people told him when he could have done something about it but the roosters are now home to roost. Even the $6M in architectural fees went to Chicago!

    I ask Rolston to grin and bear it as changes now will not make a significant difference only reduce the buildings to empty expensive shells. It is unfortunate that the country does not have legal recourse against Alden as he was a Minister and not a consultant at the time of this stupid mistake.

    • Anonymous says:

      "No separating classroom walls"?

      Dear Jesus, that idea went out in the UK (and probably everywhere else) in the 1970s as teachers, students and parents realised they couldn’t concentrate for overhearing other people. Who sold us this dead idea?

  8. Richard Wadd says:

     hmmm, a case of "closing the gate AFTER the horse has bolted"…. but at least they (UDP) are trying.

    I think that the UDP should have raised these concerns while they were still in Opposition, while there was still time to take effective action about it ….

    …. that said, perhaps we can look at ‘Floating-ceilings, and Teak Paneling’ for a start. How these contribute to a proper education, I just can’t imagine in my WILDEST DREAMS.

    What next, Marble floors and Granite desks? …. not to mention Bone-china and silverware in the canteen.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why didn’t Alden request Rolston to prove the changes requested?

    I thought Alden had said there were no major changes. Wow!

    Sounds like another case of PPM being midlead, or just plain spending our money like it was going out of style.

    • Clearviewer says:

      Alden aint going to answer Rolston on the overspending, or anything that will prove what we the people knew all along, he didnt give a damn then and even less now what anyone thinks, that dont care attitude of his is what got this island in this mess and his rude arrogant demeanor is for the birds.

      Now UDP you have to move on and  get things done for all of us, PPM and UDP.  we are one island.