School projects shelved

| 10/12/2008

(CNS): The first serious casualties of the government cutbacks appear to be two of the Ministry of Education’s major school projects. Both the Beulah Smith High School in West Bay and the renovation of George Town Primary have been postponed. Education Minister Alden McLaughlin confirmed to CNS that both the projects were being delayed as a result of the current financial crisis and more details would be revealed during today’s Strategic Policy Statement.

“The start of a number of capital projects including the George Town Primary and the Beulah Smith High Schools are being deferred in light of the projected downturn in revenues as a result of the global financial crisis,” McLaughlin said.

A major part of the ministry’s goal to elevate the standard of education throughout the islands, the indefinite delay to the projects represents a blow to that ambition. However, McLaughlin made it clear this was a deferment and not a cancellation.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said at a recent media briefing that, while government would seek to pursue as many capital projects as possible to buoy up the local economy, there would be some things that would have to be sacrificed.

Although local contracting firm McAlpine had recently been publically awarded the Beulah Smith job, McLaughlin said that no contracts had been signed on either these jobs and that government was ensuring that none of the projects already underway would be stopped. McLaughlin added that the LoGB would be giving more details of the various projects that may be deferred during today’s statement in the Legislative Assembly, which will sett out the budgetary ambitions for the next fiscal year.

The Central Tender’s Committee awarded the $49,799,800 contract to McAlpine in September and the target for opening had been the 2010/2011 school year. And although nothing had been signed, bids had been submitted by subcontractors, and talk in the construction sector is that after this postponement alongside other private projects that have been cancelled there will be a number of lay offs in the industry next year.

“We don’t expect things to go well in 2009 and there will be a lot of local contractors laying people off in the industry, and many of these people are Caymanians,” one contractor told CNS.

The two other school projects — the redevelopment of John Gray High School and the new Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound — are both underway. There have, however, been a number of criticisms made regarding these projects, which are being undertaken by Tom Jones International. Despite claims by government that Caymanian workers will form the bulk of the workforce on its capital projects, there are unconfirmed reports that only three Caymanians are working on the Clifton Hunter site.  McLaughlin recently confirmed that as the General Contractor Tom Jones was employing only Caymanian sub-contractors at the site, who would in turn be doing the recruiting, but he indicated he would look into the situation and that government still wanted to ensure that as many local workers were employed as possible.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Annymous says:

    If we didn’t have to deal with all the influx of children as a result of the UDP’s  MASS STATUS GRANTS we would not have to build schools.

    Dart School – you have to apply and get approved – who do you think this approval process will be in favour of – certainly only a handful of well off Caymanian children whose parents can afford the high cost of education at this private school.

    Triple C – this is an American School – don’t have to go no further.

    Education should be FREE for every native Caymanian child.  Call me prejudice but everyone else should have to pay a fee.

    Native Caymanians want preferential treatment and why shouldn’t we?  Tell me why should be have to receive the same as any other non-Caymanian or Status holder/PR holder?  WE SHOULD NOT and I don’t care if this service refuses to post this comment for fear they will get targeted for it, but I have read many comments on this site that has spewed hate towards Caymanians, as if we don’t have a right to claim our true birthright in this country.

    Give us back our COUNTRY in May 2009!!

     

     

  2. Anonymous says:

     i agree with the last commentor on his value engineering. we can still build schools but not at these prices. Triple c school cost 5 million dollars and has 500 plus students .  Dart’s international school cost around 30 million and is state of the art, how in God’s eye can we justify triple that cost and free!! The students of these schools have to pay over 700 dollars per month! How could we offer these kind of schools for free?? I believe if there is not enough schools we need to be asking  where are all these students coming from? If we feel in our heart that we should educate people throughout the caribbean by getting into the education market then we need to make money… a profit. We are defintely not  a rich country to give away free.

  3. Anonymous says:

     

       I thought for now that since  the economy is producing a downward turn, that since the Beaulah Smith High School project has been put on Shelf, then that sixty million dollars that was aloted to that project should now be accounted for and made sure it is put back into a safe place for any future needs that might arise for that money.

       As we all know that in these times and cases, "Money goes walking away" and there is no one to say what happened to it.

       It will be very interesting to know that all the school projects monies, with some almost one hundred and eighty million dollars aloted to three projects are still amounted to the given amounts totaling the sum for all the Schools projects, is put back into "Government Funds" and not some other Funds apart from Government Funds.

       In this way when we are ready to build our Schools again, then maybe at even some cheeper rate, than this ridiculas fixty million dollars value, then we will have that money to be sure and build our Schools.

      

  4. Anonymous says:

    Good move, not likely to loseany votes and pretty much guarantees that the West Bay High school will eventually be built in one form or another even if the current Government doesn’t win enough seats to reamin in power.

    One presumes and hopes that given this scenario, consideration will be given to the proper utilisationof the George Hicks Campus once the John Grey and Frank Sound Schools are complete. From a laymans perspective it would seem as though there is a possibility of using it to not only house some of the students that would have gone to the West Bay High School but also perhaps on a more permanent basis, a complete relocation of the George Town Primary School. This would help to ensure that the overcrowding problems at John A Cumber, Red Bay and Prospect Primary Schools are not further compounded while possibly eliminating the need for a new George Town Primary School altogether.

    Just a thought…

     

  5. Anonymous says:

    While I agree the this and any other government in the same position should look at cut-backs on spending, I too feel that they should take this oppertunity to look at VALUE ENGINEERING for their projects!! having been in the consruction indusrty for over 20 years, I can safley say that the schools could be built for at leaset 1/3 less of the current cintract sum. The specifications for materials are what we in the industry call "high end" a detail which I am sure most will agree is not a must!!

    I state all the above only to say that while the government has to spend wisely, it also has to continue spending in an effort to mitigate the effects of the economic down trun in the economy, this can be done by building what we need at a fair market value. This can be done done by reducing the specifiactions and taking advantage of lower cost for materials due to a drop in fuel prices as well as revised competative labour bids for labour.  

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the most sane response to this burning issue of expenditure on the schools which the Minsiter is hellbent on constructing.

       

      Kudos to you Bredren