The faculty and staff of the St. David’s Catholic Secondary School (SDCSS) can finally breathe a sigh of relief following the commencement of “temporary refurbishment of the School” which had been allowed to deteriorate significantly over the years.
The school, like many other buildings on the island, took a heavy pounding from the high winds of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
An entire section of the roof is still to be repaired resulting in severe deterioration of the structure from the elements and forcing teachers to hold class on the outside as the building was considered a safety hazard to all concerned.
The refurbishment project, which has been contracted to roofing contractor Paul Antoine of Shelter Solutions Inc. to the tune of approximately EC$346, 000 comes on stream after months of discussions and consultations between the various stakeholders and the Government of Grenada.
Approximately 20 persons are working on the site and have been able to replace as much as one side of the roof of the building in just one day.
The refurbishment work on SDCSS is expected to culminate during the week of Carnival between August 9-15.
Engineering Contractor Carlyle Glean of Glean’s Construction and Engineering Co. Ltd., who would be supervising the refurbishment process expressed confidence that the project, which involves the replacement of the roof covering, replacement and repairs of all damaged and/or missing windows, plumbing and electrical works and painting will be completed in time for the September start of the new 2015/2016 school year.
Speaking at a ceremony at the school compound on Monday, Glean said the refurbished facility will create a “comfortable holding situation (for) up to 5 to 10 more years” and give government some much needed time to source funds to construct a new school on lands identified in La Sagesse, St. David’s.
“It would allow school to continue, while we look for monies to build a new school…(which is) in the region of EC$20 million,” he added.
According to Glean, upon the first inspection of the facility, he realised that the problems that exist could be repaired within a short period of time and would be more “cost effective than building temporary facilities at this time” to facilitate classes.
He disclosed that the “more technical aspect of the project is repairs to the concrete works that (have already) started deteriorating.”
He explained that “what has been cracked – all the loose elements of these – whether it be columns, slabs, walls or beams would be removed and reconstructed with steel brush, adhesive (would be) applied”.
Glean gave assurances that the “reconstructed elements would be sealed so that new moisture cannot enter.”
School Principal Mariam Calliste who also addressed the brief ceremony recounted the anxiety at the school over the years to get the refurbishment project on stream.
“We have been enduring, dealing with the problem, the inconveniences and I would say, with grace – because my teachers continued to work, to function and to operate the business of teaching and learning.
“We are happy that our cries were heard…and that there is collaboration between the (Catholic) Church, the Ministry, the donors…and I want to say thank you on behalf of all stakeholders of the St. David’s Catholic Secondary School.
“We are indeed elated and happy…and that is really what we wanted (for) people to recognise that we wanted some assistance, some help, in making this place more conducive to learning.
Also attending the ceremony marking the start of works at the school was Parliamentary Representative for the area, Economic Development Minister, Oliver Joseph, Father Clifton Harris of the Catholic Education Board of Management, and Senator Simon Stiell in the capacity of Acting Minister of Education in the absence of Education Minister Anthony Boatswain, members of the SDCSS parent teacher association, teachers and students of the school.
In addressing the SDCSS issue during a recent sitting of the Lower House of Parliament, Education Minister Boatswain acknowledged the negligence of past governments to address the issue noting that “some of the problems that exist at the school now were identified for repair since 1987 at an estimated repair cost of EC$115, 000.”