New gym price tag remains secret

| 21/02/2017 | 75 Comments
Cayman News Service

Officials in the new gym

(CNS): Tax payers will not find out how much government spent on the new John Gray High School gymnasium, which has been prioritised over the rest of the school development for this year’s exams and a basketball tournament, before the May election. Government told CNS that although there “has been no decision to withhold the amount of spent on the project indefinitely”, it will not be disclosed until the budget and all the costs related to the re-start of the school project are finalised.

“Revealing the budget for the project prior to completion and handover, telegraphs to the contractor and others, the amount of funding the ministry has available to apply to the project,” the education ministry’s chief officer, Christen Suckoo, told CNS via email this week. “While we have the utmost respect for the contractor, McAlpine, in pursing value for money and good business practice, the ministry has therefore taken the position not to reveal the budget for the project at this time.”

As government returns to the development of the entire new John Gray campus, which has been stalled for years, it had opted to prioritise the gymnasium, which officials said should be finished before the students sit their exams in May, which will be held in the new building. Described as a state-of-the-art facility, the gym will provide the space needed to deliver the indoor physical education curriculum for the school, as well as provide for assemblies and graduations.

“It will also be a national arena able to host public events, conferences, fairs, state funerals and international sporting events,” government officials said in a release from the ministry. “The sports that it will be internationally rated for are badminton, basketball, 5-a-side football, netball and volleyball. Its capacity for assemblies and sporting events is over 2,000 people. It will also be a hurricane shelter, able to withstand a category 5 hurricane and hold approximately 1,194 people as a shelter.”

Although the ministry intends to keep the price tag a secret for many more months, it has claimed that the project is under budget, allowing for the installation of solar panels on the roof and LED lighting throughout the building.

“These enhancements will help to reduce the running cost of this large building – one of the key requirements for this project,” officials stated.

Cabinet recently approved a strategic outline case for the completion of the entire school and the repurposing of the old George Hicks site, where John Gray is currently operating. Suckoo said the policy, vision and best practice in school design had been reviewed to inform the direction of the strategic case.

Education Minister Tara Rivers said she was pleased to see the progress of the facilities to date. She said all the relevant stakeholders, including teachers and students, had been consulted to ensure the gymnasium is fit for purpose and to maximise the use of the facility by teachers, students and the public.

“I would like to thank all involved for bringing this project to fruition.  I am excited to see the progress made and look forward to seeing the gym at full completion,” she added.

Jonathan Matthews, Senior Project Manager, employed by the Ministry of Education, and seconded to the Public Works Department’s Major Projects Office said, “Overcoming the risks associated with completing a partially constructed building and remaining on time and under budget was one of the main challenges for this complicated project.”

Matthews added that the successful cost reductions mean the energy-saving technologies could be added, which was an “excellent result for all involved”.

Officials said a request for proposals for consultants for the business case is expected to be advertised soon.

See map (site phasing plan) on the CNS Library

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Comments (75)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So sad. Does our Govt not think we deserve to know where our money is being spent? Do they think we are too ignorant and obtuse? Same, same on all issues with this group. Not the opposition is any better. They think we are as incompetent and ill educated as the expats held businesses who shy away from hiring us believe we are. How can we expect to move forward as a country without complete transparency? It is a joke, and an embarrassment.

    • Jotnar says:

      Well, you elected them.

    • Anonymous says:

      So sad that this mess is still around. In all honesty the present Premier blew it when he went with the dumb plan and even worse hired the contractor (but they were cheap!). Then fat boy and his cronies got in there with DECCO and they really put it to us tax payers on a crummy job at the Clifton Hunter school. Now someone has to clean up the disgrace that was left here in Georgetown. Well enough is enough and lets get the place cleaned up, save what we can and dump the rest. But be very vigilante because the politicians both past & present all have there hands out and that is what stinks to high heaven!
      Blame that on President Trump if you like!

    • Dannish says:

      This is a smart move Mr. Suckoo. Well done for better money management.

    • Anonymous says:

      why does we complain after all we voted them in.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “It will also be a national arena able to host public events, conferences, fairs, state funerals and international sporting events,” government officials said in a release from the ministry.

    A state funeral in a gym? I’ll make sure to leave instructions with my family that I don’t want one.

    • Anonymous says:

      We can have big Mac with extra sauce there!
      Don’t forget Alden with extra grease!

    • Dannish says:

      Why do we always have to think negatively. What is wrong if the funeral is so big that it can only be held where there is capacity for 2000. Where exactly would you like your funeral held if you are expecting 2000 people to attend? Under a tent?

    • Dannish says:

      Negativism is a serious disease that results in poor quality of life.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is Tara Rivers still in government?

  4. Anonymous says:

    All the refusal to be transparent with the voting public does is create the impression that there is something rotten in the PPM. These [politicians seem to deny the fact that the money spent is that of the people of the Cayman Islands. How quickly these politicians believe they can treat the public like children.
    Vote them all out now.
    Show us the Ritch report.

    • Anonymous says:

      Except that with the PPM you can be sure none of the money ended up in politicians pockets as “commissions”.

  5. robert says:

    Got Your Money !

  6. Anonymous says:

    Look, a gowernment not COMPLETELY open and transparent when it comes to spending from the public purse should not get reelected this year.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Spend more on education. What a waste of $$$$$$.students can run around and carry on in the gym but can’t read or write and become a further blight on the government later because they can’t get jobs and need assistance.

  8. Plato says:

    Knock down all of the school buildings and plant shade trees. All you need for a good education is a shade tree to sit under, a blackboard and a teacher who can actually teach without electronic aids.

    • Anonymous says:

      Boy this must be some real genius who has his children in some other country. Please go back where you came from!

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, haven’t you heard of the newest fad in all the schools to get rid of all their computers and dress up like we are all going to church so we can prepare for the second coming.

      The problem with technology in the schools in Cayman is that they only go half-as%^&* when they promote technology in the classroom. They are literally decades behind other schools. They need to buy their technology though some relative who owns a business selling computers at double or triple the cost so everybody gets a slice, but nobody cares about the quality of the technology. But all the technology in the world can’t help your children, when you have luddite parents promoting disgruntled reactions to new technologies that their children mimic.

      Well, back to the blasting loud music coming from the race-track to help nearby kids good studying habits and concentration.

  9. Veritas says:

    I trust this state of the art facility will have infra red security cameras so they can penetrate heavy fog (so prevalent in these islands), like the new fire truck in Cayman Brac.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Classic PPM vote buying at its best.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I thought the budget was a public document? Also, any “extra” money needed to complete a project, that is over and above the budgeted amount approved by the LA, would need to be reshuffled from somewhere else in the grand budget, and that reshuffled money would need to be approved by the LA as well, which would make the figures open to the public.

    With that said, and if that is correct, then this is most likely a cover-up by the Ministry acting on the instructions of the Minister (who is probably being directed by the Cabinet to give these instructions to Mr. Suckoo).

    Seems a shame that they cant tell us how much of our money this is costing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Frankly, I am relieved that money is being spent on a gymnasium instead of a cafeteria. Most of the students at John Gray (and pretty much all of the public schools here) could use a fair amount of exercise.

    • Anonymous says:

      yes, but do you honestly believe anyone is going to implement increase physical education or proper nutrition? They want these kids obese. Easier to control disenfranchised, uneducated people.

      • Dannish says:

        Obesity has nothing to do with the wishes of politicians. It’s all about choice of parents first followed by same poor choice of students. It really a lack of education and self control at the dinner table. Yes exercise will help with weight management but it is not the main cause of obesity.
        There other complexities of metabolism also at play. Pardon the pun.

  13. Smithy says:

    How quickly we forget that it was Ralston and Mac who pushed the cost of the on budget Clinton Hunter from $60 to $100 million and took the decision not to finish the JGHS. Whose mess are we really cleaning up here?

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t forget Cline as he is the Cayman partner for some of the construction companies that worked on the job.

    • UnCivil Servant says:

      How convienent to forget Alden Mclaughlin’s political legacy of poorly designed expensive schools. Caymanians tend to have the memory of gold fish.

      These schools were built without walls to divide classrooms while containing expensive facilities like gourmet quality kitchens and recording studios which undoubtedly help to increase the costs of construction. Will the Premier or Tara Rivers or Christen Suckoo CO ministry of education confirm the annual operational costs of the Clifton Hunter High School for good measure or is that a secret as well?

      • Anonymous says:

        Tara has is issued a statement that it has nothing to do with her portfolio. Apparently her campaign songs this year are Shaggy’s “It wasn’t me” and her national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Civil Servant for saving us money. I’m so impressed with decisions taken in the Civil service these days. I’m so sorry to see that the Compass seem to think that doing your best to save our money is a bad thing.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Actually the Chief Officer said that they would do a full accounting at the end of the project which is going to be completed in May. I actually dont have a problem with this. I saw the news and listened to the education team on the radio. The Chief Officer made it clear that the budget is set but until the project is finished they will not publicly state the budget amount. Anyone that does construction in Cayman knows you dont tell the contractor how much extra money you have. Waiting a little longer to find out the budget versus the amount spent is well worth it to me if it keeps the price down. Taxpayers want to know our money is not being wasted, but not at the risk of wasting our money because some people are pushing for early disclosure. Sensible and not the usual civil service approach.

    • Anonymous says:

      In other words, there is no written contract to hold McAlpine to. Shooting from the hip as always.

      • Jotnar says:

        There is presumably a contract, which will have provisions for determining the final price even in the event of a dispute. How much money CIG budgeted is completely irrelevant to that process. McAlpine cannot simply ask for more because the budget exceeded what was required, and whilst knowing that CIG has wiggle room in their budget may encourage them to push harder on negotiations on a dispute, it doesn’t ultimately determine whether or not CIG pays it. After all, McAlpine is dealing with the government – if they were contractually entitled to more money than was budgeted, they are going to ask for it and get irrespective of what the budget number was. The budget doesn’t limit CIGs liability to pay, nor does what some civil servant in his infinite wisdom thought it would cost. That’s like telling your car mechanic that you are not going to pay for the repairs because you thought it should be a smaller number!

        Bottom line here is that the government wants to announce a “win” by saying that the gym came in under budget, even though the final accounting has not been finalised (so how the h*ll they can know they are under budget is beyond me), but now finds itself in the difficult position of trying to claim they are under budget but without saying what the cost actually was or what the budget was!

        This has nothing to do with the civil service saving the taxpayer money. It has to do with politicians trying to score points before an election, and in the process running into an entirely foreseeable problem in which because of the lack of transparency the media assume that there is something to hide, and either the budget was exceeded or that the absolute cost is horrific – under budget or no. Its a shame that civil servants are letting themselves get involved in politics, and were not left to get on quietly with finalising the contract payments at the lowest possible price.

        • Reality Check says:

          Well said. Civil Servants have become the real politicians playing the same games as politicians. This has become a sad a joke.

          This gym project is all about optics to say sports tourism can make money under the ppm and pure politics. After three and half years in power one would think proper class rooms would be the priority instead of a gymnasium to host a basket ball event.

      • Anonymous says:

        The accuracy and attention to details and specifications of the construction documents forms the basis of the contract sum.
        Who is the Architect, who was put in charge of negotiating or bidding this job…?
        Too many amateurs get involved in matters they know nothing about , just because they are civil servants makes them experts.

        Employ experienced and professionally qualified on Island Architects and hold them responsible.

    • Anonymous says:

      Were this not an election year I would agree wholeheartedly. As it is, and knowing the PPM’s proclivity for not revealing so much, I can only wonder ????

  16. Anonymous says:

    I for one see nothing wrong in keeping your cards close to the chest so they do not try a quick one on you like happened up at Clifton Hunter with all the cronyism buddy baloney that went on. Guess some windbag will say otherwise but better it gets done than what Cline, Ralston & Mac’s gang put us thru! IE Carib all the way XXXX!

    • Anonymous says:

      Let us get these mess of schools finally done before Mac & his gang of cohorts can get there greedy fat fingers into it. Isn’t it enough that there has been a huge waste of taxpayers money and our children are still way behind where they should be? Shame on all you politicians & beurocrates until you get this mess cleaned up once and for all! Please just keep the cronyism/buddies out of it this time. No more repeats of the Clifton Hunter/DECCO fiasco!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Well done. Nothing is more important that the education of our children.

    Now if we can only get ALL parents to see that the future of their offspring depends on gaining as much knowledge as they can take.

    • Anonymous says:

      Finishing the gymnasium started 8 years ago isn’t going to educate children or parents. This is a frantic Carib-style 3rd World pre-election vote buying exercise without a contracted budget. Who, but the CIG, would engage builders and give them an open budget without targets and deadlines!?! We’ve learned nothing.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am quite sure that there is a contract and a budget. Just that the contractor does not know the total sum of the budget so as to hold them to the contract. There was much publicity when the contract was signed.

        If you were building a house with a 500K contract, would you tell your contractor that you actually had 600K to spend????? Think you would have many extras????

        • Jotnar says:

          But would I tell my friends in front of the contractor – who anyway knows I have very deep pockets beyond what I allocated to my house project – that I was under budget before agreeing the final bill/

      • Dannish says:

        Who said this was an open budget. Are you part of the ministry that you can make such a declaration? Speak to what you know.

  18. Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

    Just Another Day in Absurdistan

    • Anonymous says:

      With everyone stuffing as much of our money in their pockets as they can get away with. LOL, talk about a third-world economy?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile some time back Cayman Prep School built a boring simply designed building on Walkers Road for peanuts compared to the astonishing sums government has wasted and Prep is delivering in these buildings a first class education……something that government can’t do because it is still spending and still building on shells of buildings. When it’s “gernment” money you can spend like drunken sailors but when it’s hard earned private funds you are modest in your demands for other than just simple walls, floors and roofs. The kids, after all, don’t need the folly of elaborate not fit for purpose buildings, they just need a good teacher, a decent enclosed quiet classroom with walls, supplies and supportive parents.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good luck finding supporting parents in our public schools.

      • Anonymous says:

        I get so tired of the “My kids are ignorant because of the poor teachers. My children knew how to read before they went to school. The child’s education is the parents ( note parents- plural-two) responsibility. Nothing else is near the importance. Children have to learn to read. The ability to read should take priority over all other aspects of education. Reading opens up the whole world and a job for them. I find many island parents cannot read and comprehend well. They thus expect the teachers to give their child what they cannot. Buildings, nor will the best teachers in the world.will not solve this generations old problem Parents please give the education system a child that can be educated.

      • Anonymous says:

        My child goes to public school, and the teachers are not the problem, at all. The problem is much higher up. There is no organization what so ever. No one seems to know what they are doing, or why they are doing it. No one take responsibility for errors, no matter how glaring. The administrative staff are over worked, and only give a crap about problem kids. If your kid is not causing a problem they have zero time for you or your concerns. Our schools are nothing more than a baby sitting service for lazy ass parents, and third world baby mamas, trying to escape poverty.

    • Anonymous says:

      What is absent from the government schools is support from the parents, due to their belief, that government must provide for their children. Provide free education, yes, but it is the responsibility of all parents to be a part of the school system, by seeing that children are properly groomed, respectful, feed, equipped to learn and they attend HSA meetings. The private schools do not have most of the problems that are experience in the government schools, due to the fact, that parents attend meetings, assist in all of the school activities and support their children.
      The mentality of most parents whose children attend government schools’ that government must provide for them. They are sent to school unfeed, improperly clad, undone homework, and the school is blamed because they are not learning. Parents are the the main problem with the education of their children. They do not spend quality time with them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Some of us do, we are involved, but damn they beat us down. We are faced with an untenable beuracracy that favors the worst elements rather than the best.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just you try to be an involved parent. There is no one, I repeat, no one, who knows what they are doing at that place. I bet you do not have any children, and if you do none are at JGHS, or you would know what we are facing.

    • Anonymous says:

      The discussion is about a gym. Have you been to one at Prep that can hold this many persons/sports, AND be a hurricane shelter?
      I feel you are comparing two different fruit.

      • Veritas says:

        I like the comparison to fruit. To expand on this theme, one is fresh and wholesome, the other rotten to the core.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, 9:31, the discussion is about more than a mere gymnasium. It is about education and the way government spends its money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Okay, fair enough about the bldg design, but they majorly fu’d on the parking. And it is Cayman Prep, and Cayman Prep alone, that cause the traffic mess every damn day by the schools. They should absolutely not be allowed to block Walkers Road. Wish Govt. Would ticket all of those selfish road hogs. Glad you have an extra grand a month to send your kids there, but don’t block the GD Road for everyone else.

      • Anonymous says:

        Amen to that one brother!

      • Anonymous says:

        @ 8:08pm your memory is very short. Walkers Road use to be so congested with traffic when John Gray HS was on that road. Why try to find something negative to say about a very good school when there is nothing. When last have your driven by Cayprep. Govt has provided a long well deserved turning lane to accommodate the parents who see the greater good for there children to have a top class education. Caymanians and Expats benefit. I guess you will have to just make the sacrifice for the extra grand a month.

        • Anonymous says:

          No too busy smoking, drinking & writing nonsense on these Cayman News Service comments!!!!!!

        • Anonymous says:

          I drive by there every damn day that school is in session. Prep parents are blocking the road both directions, and even worse they park on the GD curb by Denham Thompson, so no one can get around them. I said nothing about the quality of this school, only about the poor design, and the selfish parents who think it is their right to block up traffic for the other three schools that use this roadway.

          • Anonymous says:

            What do you expect as they are the select bunch just like the money people who live in the gated communities and have the big $$$$. This is why the country is hurting. These fat cats need to pay there fair share so we can have better infrastructure but oh no any kind of direct taxation will kill our economy! Wake up politicians as the average person is already crushed!

          • Anonymous says:

            @6:46 Okay! I can hear that you are frustrated. But guess what? There are so many of you who hate on the Parents (Caymanians & Expats) at Cayprep that you refuse to let them out of the side road…So they in turn have to be forceful and make sure that they get to work on time. Stop being mean…or would you like for them to start a petition to have a stop light there. They got a turn lane! Show some Caymankind!

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