Petition started over poor state of West Bay school

| 26/09/2016 | 33 Comments
Cayman News Service

John A Cumber Primary at the school’s renaming ceremony in September 2010

(CNS): Parents with children attending Sir John A Cumber Primary in West Bay have begun a petition calling for “adequate staffing, an environmentally safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff” as the school has started the new year with some old problems. Pictures posted on Facebook show the poor state of some facilities at the school, including broken playground equipment. But parents are concerned that mould, mildew and woodlice are making children ill.

Kids are coming down with itchy watery eyes and skin, chest pains, headaches, coughs and breathing troubles, sore throats and other complaints that go beyond the usual childhood ailments.

By 5pm Monday there were just 24 signatures on the petition but the education ministry has issued a statement in response to the petition and pictures saying that operating multiple buildings for hundreds of students, teachers and the community meant maintenance needs at schools were “constant and voluminous” but that the issues were being addressed. Officials said the facilities team works with principals, teachers, PTA’s, the Public Works Department, the Department of Environmental Health and contractors to ensure that schools were well maintained.

“We can safely say that generally all of our schools are kept in good condition. In addition, each year all schools undergo intensive cleaning. This work is carried out as soon as possible after schools close for the summer holidays, and any identified issues are discussed with the contractors,” the ministry said, adding that the SJAPS principal has met with the PTA vice president to discuss the concerns and to confirm that the department would be reviewing and addressing the identified needs.

“The principal then met with the Head of Facilities to assess the compound and form a plan for dealing with the items identified, ” officials said, noting that work on this started Sunday, 25 September.

“The first step is the removal of debris and the broken playground equipment,” the department stated. “Replacement equipment is being sourced and further meetings are planned with the principal to establish timelines for addressing problems in the short term.”

The education department also said that it pays close attention to problems of mould. “Each suspected case of mould reported by schools is investigated, and where necessary the DEH is asked to carry out specialised testing to confirm the presence. The department also works with trained contractors to perform specialised cleaning where mould is suspected.”

They said that last weekend two classrooms, including the air conditioning systems, were deep cleaned, and this week DEH will test the air quality in these rooms.

See the petition here

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Comments (33)

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  1. SSM345 says:

    Its a shame that Mac didn’t send all those funds he gave to the churches in his district to the schools instead, I guess its easier to control the sheep rather than the educated.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Is there anyway Mac could have a charity auction for the big beautiful winter weight overcoat of his? That should raise enough to at least get the mold out of a couple rooms.
    Then (cuz he loves Cayman’s future sooo much, he really, really does) maybe he could donate that wall around his house for playground fencing. I think the insurgents have forgotten him by now.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Boy you can tell when elections is near eh. Bush2 is always at the school, why did he not identify this problem before? Why is Tara getting the blame for all this. Those other fat cats that were elected, what have they been doing all this time? Plotting to get Rolston back in the ministry, so he can continue his same sh#@? Parents.. and it should be about 1200 of you at SJACP please take the initiative and fix the playgrounds, the class rooms and the food your children eats. Stop complaining and get active in your children lives. The teachers and the Ministry already doing a hell of a lot for your children. Go fix the problem at the school and stop politricking nah. Geez!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Bush didn’t identify the problem before because it wasn’t a problem until it got in the media. Clever.

  4. Educated Guava says:

    This fiasco and the many others is caused by lack luster leadership in the Ministry of Education, from the Chief Officer right down and including the Minister. This is totally unjustified and begs the question, if any law enforcement arm went to a private school and saw the similar type of conditions, would the ministry act the same way and turn its head or would the ministry use the mighty arm of the law and force the school to clean up the mess or heck close the school. There is too much double standards in government and particularly this ministry- one that is headed by a person who should be in another ministry based on his educational experience. It is called round pegs in square holes- the fit simply isn’t there.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s bad enough when a school year starts with schools being understaffed, but when the facilities that are being used are in poor conditions, it’s even worse. The fact the Minister of Education and Department of Education allowed SJACP (and any other school(s) in such a state) to be opened without being properly assessed, prior to the beginning of the school year, is a DISGRACE!

    All government representatives, within each district, should be taking action to ensure our public schools are suitable for our children. Yes, each schools’ administrator(s), teachers and PTA, and parents of students need to be actively involved as well; they are the voices that need to be heard. However, the government is ultimately responsible for making sure the schools are suitable for our children and their teachers/administrators.

  6. Sharkey says:

    I think that this issue is very disgraceful for all politicians of West bay . The condition of the school and education of our children have to be brought to the Government attention by the way of petition, and the department of education lies about the maintenance of the school, and why are they using trained contractors and not qualified contractors in cleaning mould ?

    I think that it should be the responsibility of the elected district members of Government to make sure that all Government responsibilities are kept up to standard . I think that they are getting too big of salary for doing nothing.

  7. Anonymous says:

    ‘won’t somebody please think of the children!!!!!’

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dang she couldn’t even make sure her own district was set. Where are the elected members for WB, oh I know zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  9. Anonymous says:

    I understand that one of the major problems is that the kids are not getting the proper lunch that they should be getting. It is mentioned by lots of parents and staff that the kids do not like the food that is being cooked at the school and end up throwing it away. Therefore that means the kids go all day with out food unless the parent take lunch to the school for them.
    Is this not a major problem also.

    • Anonymous says:

      No. If its a major problem then a couple of sandwiches for your kid solves the problem. There may be other major problems associated with food – quality, availability, affordability – but taste isn’t one of them.

      For example, I ‘throw away’ a lot of salad because ‘I do not like it’. Doesn’t mean that’s a ‘major’ problem. (Except for my health.)

      • Anonymous says:

        Boy where do you come from if taste of food for kids is not important I am not sure what you are thinking of. Why do the kids throw the food away because they don’t like it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Stop spreading blame and get your act together and do something for your children. Too many times we sit back waiting for the driver, when the bus is full. We can consider ourselves lucky in this part of the world, where government priovides free education for all. Remember, there is no free lunch, someone is paying for it. Work together to make your child’s school better.

    • Anonymous says:

      How wrong you are, there are many free lunches in Cayman. I can get free education for my third level child despite the fact I can afford it, I can create a post tailor made for my child and I can ensure jobs for those belonging to the same church” if that is not a free lunch then I am not sure what is.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lots of educational appointments now coming from a certain church.coincidentally the sane church as the CEO.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Does West Bay have any elected representatives or anything like that? If they do and you can get ahold of them, I’m sure they will help you out.
    Offer them a six pack or help with their rent or hell, If your kids future are really that important offer to pave your politicians driveway for free. That may do it.

  12. SKEPTICAL says:

    Rivers wouldn’t recognize the problems in the education system if they jumped up and bit her on the arse

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mac, what say you? It’s your District, Bobo.

    Tara? Anything from you?

    • Anonymous says:

      What a great opportunity for the PTA and community to step up and do something for our school children.

      Stop expecting government to do everything.

      I will not vote for someone who can only get a petition signed by a few people. I want to vote for people who actually get things done.

      • Anonymous says:

        @6:52 – In case you missed it, it is a government school. Shouldn’t they be expected to maintain the school to a certain standard?

      • Anonymous says:

        And where is the education money being spent that is earmarked for site maintenance?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Blimey, I thought Alden was going to sort out everything when he became education minister. Now he’s the premier and this? What the heck!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Well done Tara

  16. Anonymous says:

    Its not your paying for their education.

  17. Goat Yard 4 Life says:

    The petition is unprecedented and the final nail in Minister Tara Rivers from the district of West Bay political coffin. Proving herself to be the biggest disappointment in local political history

    • Anonymous says:

      The woman is a liability but you cannot blame this on her. Mac is the local representative and should have been championing the school improvement. Bush of wasters the lot!

    • ann says:

      Many of the schools need a cleaning, This article says all schools get a deep cleaning, if so then they need to hire a new cleaning staff. Those same people who all showed up for the island winter cleanup need to come back for a couple weeks in July and clean up these schools. I was at John Gray last week, what is disgusting mess. I wonder if these children know what a garbage can is. What disgusted me more is the teacher who walked by as a student threw a banana peel on the ground and she says nothing to him. UNBELIEVABLE!!! And yes I made that student pick up his garbage and others.It is election year–if things dont change soon we are going to have a whole lot of STUPID. and guess what you cant change STUPID.

      • A Nony Mouse says:

        The physical state of the educational facilities is very important, but more important are the lessons in life that are being taught (or not) within those walls.

        The so-called “standards” exhibited by those who are supposed to be forming the attitudes and habits of the next generation are abysmal at best. The lack of discipline and respect for our teachers and administrators is a total disgrace! The “deplorable” state of the students’ attention to hygiene and dress standards is unacceptable.

        We are sending these students and school leavers into the world wholly unprepared for the realities of personal hygiene and responsibility, workplace discipline and work ethic. The recent letters to the press by a local employer who has dedicated his start-up business to hiring Caymanians is quite telling of the lack of preparation of these students for the real world of work that they face.

        The Cayman Islands education system is failing miserably at establishing discipline, respect and work ethic in an entire generation that is going to negatively affect business and society as a whole for many years to come. When will this troubling decline be addressed and corrected, along with the “physical plant”?

        As we have seen in the recent news, a beautiful home can disguise the serious neglect and abuse inflicted upon the occupants of that same home! Our schools are exhibiting the same neglect at present.

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