High school project to restart in June

| 23/03/2016 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service

John Gray High School construction site

(CNS): After many years of problems at the new John Gray High School site, work is finally expected to restart in June, officials announced Wednesday. The education ministry has started the tendering process and adverts have been posted for potential contractors to begin the first phase of the works, a new school gym, to be completed by May next year. “Historically, there have been setbacks with the construction of the new John Gray site but this administration is committed to getting the school built,” said Education Minister Tara Rivers.

“We are ready to move forward, following the process that is set out in the new requirements for capital projects, which so far has proven effective for other major government projects,” she added in a release about the re-starting of the beleaguered works.

The project was first conceived ten years ago by Alden McLaughlin, the current premier, when he was education minister during the 2005-2009 PPM government. But a combination of financial constraints, political wrangling and problems with the contractor led to significant set-backs and the project came to a hault in 2012.

However, Chief Officer Christen Suckoo said lessons had been learned from the problems.

“The issues and challenges experienced with the Clifton Hunter site have helped us to chart the direction in which we need to go for the John Gray campus,” he said. “Although the process may take a bit longer, I am confident that the end product will be one of which teachers, students, parents and indeed the community can be proud.”

The ministry decided to start with the gymnasium because it is a central part of the school’s infrastructure, the closest structure to the current site and is already 60 per cent completed.

“After meetings with the various stakeholders, including teachers, parents, architects and ministry officials, it was agreed that the gymnasium was a good place to start as so much of what happens in and at the school takes place in this one building,” explained Senior Project Manager Jonathan Matthews, who has been hired by the ministry and seconded to the Public Works Department’s Major Projects Office specifically to finish the construction of the entire school.

“Exams, school assemblies, PTA meetings, sporting, community and other special events will all take place in the gymnasium; it is a hub for both the school and the community, and because it is already partially completed, seeing it finally finished will be a significant morale boost and a motivator for everyone involved in the process,”  he said.

According to a release, government will be working with a team of qualified consultants on the cost plan, design development drawing and the outline business case, and is now in the project planning phase. Once work has begun on the gym, the ministry and Matthews’ team will start the next phase, which will look at the overall design of the rest of the school. This will take place from July to December and includes completing a strategic outline case to justify completing the school and an outline business case exploring possible design options, the costs, affordability, risks, procurement route and timetable for finishing the full campus.

“The ministry will be forming a stakeholder group that will review educational approaches and facilities in various jurisdictions and in the Cayman Islands to determine the links between school design and education outcomes,” said Rivers. “That group’s assessment will influence the project process to ensure that a teaching facility is provided for the students at John Gray that is appropriate for the Cayman Islands, yet strives to deliver excellence in education for students now and in future generations.”

The project team will be meeting with students during the first week of April to hear their opinions on what should be included in the new school in order to meet their needs, from both an educational and social perspective, and also give tours of the site.

“The end product has to be right for Cayman, and not just a philosophy or concept that is handed to us.  This is why we feel it is important to meet with all stakeholders during each phase to make sure that they are informing the process and the vision,” Matthews added.

With 18-plus years in project management specialising in education construction, Matthews has recently worked on four major school projects from conception to completion and all have come in on time and under budget. Jonathan Clark, the newly appointed principal of the John Gray High School, who has previously been involved with the design, construction and operation of schools, will also bring his experience to the project.

See invitations to tender on the Education ministry’s website

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Category: development, Education, Local News

Comments (22)

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  1. History Teacher says:

    This the legacy of Alden McLaughlin and the PPM. Expensive monuments to a massive ego at a cost Cayman could not afford.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Rotten rebar weather damage to exposed areas
    Just look at that place on frank sound its falling apart in big chunks
    what a testament to your country and its failures past, present and future
    All the children should be sent away to boarding school in England and perhaps there will be hope for the future

  3. Anonymous says:

    Here comes the PPM spending machine just a year before elections…wonder why..hmmmm

    Wonder if they will finish the four lanes on Esterly Tibbetts?

    • Anonymous says:

      At least you can see where the money is going

    • Anonymous says:

      At least the PPM spends on infrastructure which will serve us all for many years. UDP’s spending has been on luxury jworld travels, casinos and settling law suits.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sure, Mckeeva would have to travel the world a 1000 times to spend the equivalent the PPM spent on Clifton Hunter High School..Then if you factor in the roads that sunk that had to be re-done and the roundabouts that have to be constantly repaired because they were improperly engineered and built…Yeah, I can see it because we keep spending it over an over. Show me the difference between Alden ad McKeeva…not much I’d say…

  4. Watchful eye says:

    “Once work has begun on the gym, the ministry and Matthews’ team will start the next phase, which will look at the overall design of the rest of the school. This will take place from July to December and includes completing a strategic outline case to justify completing the school and an outline business case exploring possible design options, the costs, affordability, risks, procurement route and timetable for finishing the full campus.”
    Why wait to restart construction on the gymnasium, when the questions about the rest of the school have not been answered, such as the design, cost, affordability and risks. Is this putting the cart before the horse?

  5. Caymanian Voter says:

    This was one of the things that the PPM campaigned on – getting this project completed. It is pretty hard to throw it in their faces now! The school needs to be completed and I say good on ’em for getting it started within the time they said they were going to

  6. Anonymous says:

    It seems anything Alden McLaughlin puts his attention to blows up. The ill-conceived open classrooms debacle at Clifton Hunter and the ruins of John Gray are his legacy and when most people would hang their heads in shame at the results, he puffs out his chest. Ten years of set backs, not success stories, at the expense of our children.
    Perhaps if Alden’s focus had been on our children instead of building monuments to himself, there would have already been several graduations held in that gymnasium. SMDH. Can someone please tell him he is not fit for public office?
    I commend Hon. Tara Rivers for taking this on, it is very brave of her to pick up the mess Alden made and try to make something of it. I believe her heart is with the children of these Islands and for that reason, she will give this her all. Let’s hope the PPM government supports her even though she is an outsider and an accomplished woman. God forbid should she get any credit for this, you know.

    • Anonymous says:

      How many years did it take for the Education Minister to realize that JGHS wasn’t finished in 2012? That’s her full time job by the way, Education Minister. This should not have come as a surprise to her in 2016.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well he put his attention on making her a Minister so you better hope you are wrong in your prediction!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes Alden and the PPM made some mistakes last time around but they learned from them. The complaint last time was they tried to do too much This time they are not trying to do everything all at once. The economy is booming, they are lowering taxes and now starting to work on infrastructure. You can actually see where the money is going. Remember that bottomless pit called the Nation Building Fund. How quickly we forget. I guess there will always be someone crying because they didn’t get their kickback or handout.

      • sonia says:

        Well said 10:57 only the wilful blind are refusing to see the major achievements of this government.

        So happy to see a proper process being followed. Gone are the days of starting projects without a plan.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This regime has successfully dodged this neglected project for almost it’s entire term in office. They now intend to run the clock down to Dec 2016 on tendering for work they have not budgeted for, and do not appear to intend to begin anyway. This is pre-election window dressing at its worst. We already know that it is going to fall to whoever steps up in May 2017 to see this through – to either tear it down, or finish what is salvageable by then.

  8. Anonymous says:

    June 2016 or…?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh boy…Here we go again. Please remember buildings don’t teach, teachers teach make the classrooms classrooms and not VIP office spaces. Make the building efficient and spend some money on shop courses because that is a very effective way to introduce work ethics into the classroom. Have a remedial learning center for those with learning difficulties so that they can get the extra help they need without disturbing the average student population. These fancy buildings with limited classroom space are ridiculous.

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