The Principal of the St. David’s Catholic Secondary School (SDCSS), Gary Jones has questioned the motive of an individual who reposted images of students sitting on school chairs by the roadside, due to structural issues including falling debris at the institution.
Speaking with THE NEW TODAY at the school on Monday, Jones, who took up duties as head teacher following the passing of former school Principal, Miriam Calliste in December 2017, said he was taken aback when the images resurfaced last week on the Social Media network.
He told this newspaper that he has “not observed anything like that” since taking up office as Principal of SDCSS a year ago.
According to Jones, “the issue of fallen debris and these things, I have been here for one (1) year and I haven’t observed anything like that over the past year…I was wondering how is it that a story like that could come out now at a time when we are working so hard as a Catholic school and trying to maintain the standards that one would expect at a Catholic school.”
He said since the images were posted on Facebook last week “many persons have been calling, asking me to offer explanations about what is happening at the school…questioning the safety of the students and things like that and I just see it as an opportunity to exploit an old story to make some kind of mileage that is unfair to the students, teachers and to the school.”
“I would like to know why (it was done) rather than investigating all of the great things that are happening at the school or trying to validate the story itself before posting it,” the Principal added.
Jones also used the opportunity to denounce such “propaganda and fake news,” pointing to the potential negative impact on the school.
“When it (rumours) get out there, some people actually believe it and that’s a threat to our school, what we stand for and the integrity and standard of our school…and it reverses a lot of the things we have tried so hard for the last year to work on and improve,” he added.
In July 2015, SDCSS embarked on a refurbishment project to the tune of approximately EC$346, 000.00, after structural issues involving cracked walls and ceiling as well as deteriorating concrete, posed a danger to the users of the school.
It was revealed that one of the main reasons for the deterioration of the school’s structure had to do with moisture entering the structure uncontrollably from the Windward side of the building, thus causing the school structure to go into an accelerated rate of deterioration from 2004, when part of the roof was destroyed during the passage of Hurricane Ivan. That area was never rebuilt.
The scope of works that was done to give SDCSS a facelift included replacement of the roof covering, repairs of all damaged windows, plumbing and electrical work, as well as painting and most importantly repairs to the concrete works, all cracked or loose elements, columns, slabs, walls or beams, were removed and re-constructed and sealed to prevent new moisture from entering.
According to Jones, since the “major refurbishment works,” which included plumbing, electrical and painting, there has been no issue with the structure of the building.
Additionally, he said that although the building repairs have held up over the years, there is dire need for a new facility in terms of accommodation for students.
“There is a definite need for a new facility. Currently we are accommodating 535 students and the space is very crammed…some of the things that you will need to operate a secondary school like the reading spaces labs…the ability to accommodate for instance CVQ programmes, we would find ourselves having to share rooms and spaces…so there is a genuine need for a new school. We offer a good service and there is a high demand for the services we offer,” he remarked.
The much-discussed new school structure has been earmarked for construction on lands gifted by the Government of Grenada to the Catholic Church, at La Sagesse, St. David.
The project is estimated to cost in the region of EC$20 million EC.
The school principal said that SDCSS management has been actively engaging the Ministry of Education on the issue of the new school for the parish.
He said: “… We have had the consultants come into the school (and) we have looked at all of the different areas of need and we have co-operated and provided as much information as we can to the consultants…so the project is in its formative years of development”.
Education Minister Emmalin Pierre told a recent post-Cabinet press briefing that the new SDCSS project is expected to materialise within “one (1) year.”