UK architects say they won $40M JGHS contract

| 16/01/2020 | 92 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): A UK-based architecture firm has announced that it has been awarded the contract to design the new John Gray High School facility, though government has not yet revealed the full details of what was understood to be a competitive bid on the international market. It was opened in February, according to the government’s procurement site, but the estimated $40 million project design was given the green-light by the Central Planning Authority in September.

In a press release circulated Thursday, Jestico + Whiles said they had been appointed to “design a new school building for the Cayman Islands Government” and had assembled a multi-national team from the UK, Canada, US and Cayman. It is not clear if this includes a local general contractor, as education officials told Finance Committee last month that they were still negotiating the costs of the final contract, but work was expected to start in the New Year.

The architects claimed the bid they won sought architects to work with the education ministry to devise a way of utilising the existing partially completed buildings combined with new buildings to transform them into a contemporary high school. However, according to the government’s planning application, the intention was to demolish the previously constructed buildings on the site because of their “poor state”.

Whiles said they had had already carried out extensive consultation with the school community, government and education authorities to ensure that the new design met educational needs.

“The project will complete three partially constructed buildings and then construct a new central wing-form building which connects them together around a central heart to form a single whole,” the architects said. “One wing is dedicated to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths); a second to Arts, both Performing and Applied; and a third to Humanities and Languages.”

Although the original concept was for a much more modern school, as envisioned by Premier Alden McLaughlin when he was education minister between 2005 and 2009, this facility will be a “relatively traditional” school, the designers said, but each wing features “a central gathering stair and break-out space for informal learning and social activities”.

The architects said these spaces, “combined with a number of seminar and small group spaces throughout the new building, will enable the school to deliver teaching and learning flexibly in the future”. The school will also have a large central gathering space with the communal areas for dining, as well as the library and the students’ resource and social spaces.

“Sustainable thinking has informed the design development from the outset,” Whiles said in the release. “A solar control façade, which will maximise daylight whilst eliminating solar gain and glare, rainwater collection and on-site solar generation have all formed an integral part of the design concept. The landscape design uses indigenous planting and largely eliminates the need for irrigation.”

Depending on the final outcome of this contract, government will end up having spent close to $200 million on this school campus because of its long and checkered history, when it was original budgeted more than twelve years ago at less than $60 million.

The building will also be a hurricane shelter.


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Category: development, Education, Local News

Comments (92)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    PPM really wants to lose next year huh. Did Tara slop together the JGHS gym a year before elections? Hmm….sloppy sloppy

  2. Anonymous says:

    I know this is a longshot and I can’t believe I am saying this about DART.

    It is obvious that our Government has failed our children repeatedly and the quality of education is poor at its best. The government needs to get out of this as we are just throwing away money year over year.

    My solution would be to work with a private sector company like DART to take over and run the schools. He can build functional buildings at half the cost that government pays, he uses local expertise to procure drawings and materials and the quality of education is ten times better than any of the public schools.

    We could pay DART a per student rate and he can make money from all of the expat kids that are coming on island every day. Our schools are no longer integrated. When I grew up we had kids from all around the world, rich , poor or otherwise we never knew the difference. The kids in the public schools now are 99% Caymanian and alienated from their expat counterparts which inevitably leads to resentment.

    Just food for thought…

    • Anonymous says:

      Good post. Only point of disagreement is on percentage expats in government schools. It is closer to 30% than 1%.

    • Anonymous says:

      Given that the private schools actually charge Les per head in fees than the public schools it would actually save money!

    • MR says:

      From my experience (and I have several children in public schools) – I find the quality of education is excellent, the teachers are qualified, the curriculum is well-planned, the facilities are adequate (some schools could use expansion and upgrades) and there are students doing extremely well.

      The public schools’ bad reputations are primarily due to inadequate parenting and increasing poverty in the Cayman Islands which is in turn creating a larger percentile of students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have little educational foundation for the teachers to build on.

      The private schools do not have this problem because all of the parents are obviously in better mental and financial situations and can either supplement their own child’s learning deficits with tutoring or other help to ensure the child can maintain at least satisfactory grades while having sufficient activities to foster a healthy, well-rounded growing adult.

      With that said, the area where the public schools are indeed failing is where there is no adequate one-on-one tutoring for students who are sometimes 3 grade levels below where they should be. There are some 12 year olds who read at a 5 yr old level etc – intervention should have taken place by the second year of primary school when this issue was identified. Teachers have very little resources or a specified process handed down from the Ed Dept and finance by the Gov for providing the specialist needs of a child with learning deficiencies of whatever type.

      Fancier school buildings will not help the situation – the children who need the help which their parents cannot give must be provided the help at school or at a private facility financed by the Gov. It is either we budget for the tutoring or for the child’s bed in northward… it would appear our Gov prefers to prep the bed at Northward.

  3. Anonymous says:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/19/montessori-education-could-reduce-the-advantage-gap-between-rich-and-poor-but-its-only-available-to-the-rich This article sums up the success of the Montessori project and the failure or narrow passage squeeze of C.I. Gov. School system through its own set-up inspection of educational bodies.

  4. MR says:

    Our Government is obviously measuring their success with national education based on the grandeur of their buildings but our high schools graduated more passing students even before air conditioned class rooms. This over-characterized and expensive design is an unnecessary waste of public funds.

    Use the money to get specialist tutoring for the failing students and build a normal dang building.

  5. Anonymous says:

    they should re-name it to…hoodrat high….

    • Anon says:

      Dude, if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem. Quit being a part of the problem, would you?

  6. Anon says:

    Our private schools have enviable records in education. Save a fortune and bring in more private schools and instead of wasting money on cruise ship passengers and an education dept not fit for purpose, spend it on our kids and subsidise the fees for our kids attending private schools where they will receive a much better education.

    • Not a subsidy, a TAX REFUND! says:

      I agree and I’ve been saying this for years! However, it should not be in a form of a subsidy handout. No, it should be a tax REFUND! If government can’t ensure a quality education for Caymanian students, then Caymanian parents should receive a tax refund for sending their kids to private schools. Period. I send my kids to private schools not because I want to, but because I don’t have a choice. Not if I want a quality education for my kids. But I’m not benefitting from paying for public education. So government should be refunding a portion of my taxes, to help me pay for private education.

      • Anonymous says:

        2:34, You paying property tax or income tax? Think about it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Everyone pays a fortune in duty, especially on fuel. The tax revenues aren’t produced solely by the financial sector, tourist tax and work permits, you know.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tax the politicians that got us in this financial mess in the first place. Start with Alden then …

  8. Anonymous says:

    And this will be under the stewardship of Julie “lets pave private driveways” O’Connor-Connolly???

    GFN Hannah!!!

  9. Monumental failures says:

    Another example of Alden McLaughlin’s failed legacy as minister of education and a two term premier.

    When will politicians learn that spending lots of money on the structure does not guarantee good results and quality education.

    The proof is the monument to Mr. McLaughlin’s ego in Frank Sound called the Clifton Hunter High School that cost CI$110MILLION to construct and out fit. However it continues to produce failing grades at assessments and substandard students in a dreadful public education system. When will Cayman’s leaders learn?

    • Caymanians should be pi@@ed off! says:

      Cayman’s leaders aren’t the ones that have to learn. It is clear that Cayman’s leaders simply DO NOT CARE about public education in this country. It is the apathetic Caymanian parents with children in public schools that have to learn to hold Cayman’s leaders and themselves accountable for Cayman’s dreadful public education system. Caymanians need to protest and scream from the tops of their lungs that the pathetic public education system in this so-called wealthy nation will no longer be tolerated!

      • Anonymous says:

        There’s a long-held belief in politics that an ignorant, un-educated electorate is easiest to lead – don’t you think that might be a factor?

    • Never the families fault says:

      So no blame at all on the families who fail to drive home the idea of study or academic success.

      • Caymanians should be pi@@ed off! says:

        @9:46 am, Try to keep up. Read my comment again. Particularly the part where I said Caymanian parents need to hold themselves accountable.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t a UK architect design the Walkers Building that wasn’t upto Cayman code and then needed a major retrofit before it could even be used costing major $$$ and delays ?

    This is going to go well…

  11. Anonymous says:

    * Please Note*: The 2013 PPM Manifesto was supposed to deliver both the Clifton Hunter AND JGHS builds. Tom Jones bid KYD$120mln for both schools. Once finally built, Clifton Hunter came in at KYD$110.1mln, and was almost immediately valued at some KYD$20mln less than construction cost at $90mln. The unfinished JGHS skeletal buildings that were part of that deal are now going to be demolished for a total loss. Airport was supposed to come in at KYD$55mln (which included a 20% cost overrun), final tab? By April 2019, the tab was already KYD$68mln and rising. Tens of millions go missing at every PPM spending spree. Millions of dollars flying all over the place with no accountability or Standards in Public Life Law. Keep that in mind please. Learn.

    From Nov 2015:

    “In the report on government’s entire public sector financial statements, which was unveiled by Acting Auditor General Garnet Harrison last week, the office pointed to an impairment “against the cost of construction” by some $20 million. But the education ministry accounts suggest it could be as much as double.

    Although government is unlikely to want to sell the school and realize some kind of profit, the overvaluing of the school is one of a number of properties and assets that are owned by government that have not been properly valued and which continue to cause problems for balancing the government books.

    Harrison stated that one of the reasons why he gave the government’s consolidated accounts an adverse opinion was due to this failing.

    “The government’s properties in the statutory authorities and government companies valued at approximately $186 million were not properly revalued for the purpose of including a fair value on the financial statements,” he explained noting that the cost and valuation of the road network is also not included in the financial statements.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Contractors LOVE being awarded government contracts because it is soooo easy to fiddle the books and screw them out of ‘unforseen’ costs. And governments are unwilling to back out at the risk of being seen as having been taken for mugs. Which they usually are.

    • Anonymous says:

      Outrageous ! Add demolition cost to that.

      The other issue no one is concerned with-demolition debris. Every single construction project should be evaluated for how much debris it would generate taking into account the absence of proper place to dispose such debris. Every project must have stipulation that as much as possible should be re-used and recycled and disposal of what is left must have very high disposals fee to discourage developers from taking everything without any regard to the Dump.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes because taxing an education system is a fantastic idea.. NOT. I agree that public schools need better teachers, and unfortunately those better teachers are often sourced from off island. But taxing educational systems is a slippery slope that benefits no one.

  13. Buildings don't educate Caymanian children. says:

    $60 million for the building? So what? So how much is government going to actually put into teaching Caymanian children? How much money will be spent on studies to determine how to fix the abysmal public education system that continues to “graduate” undereducated people that cannot get into a university, cannot successfully complete a job interview and are not equipped for the work force in their own country? How much will be spent on social programs to educate Caymanians on the importance of putting their children’s education first? How much money will be spent to implement the Auditor General’s recommendations to fix the public school system??

    Caymanians, don’t be fooled again by the building of schools. It is a political ploy. The current government will say “Look at what we’ve built for Caymanian children!” When they really haven’t done anything but spend YOUR taxpayer money on another brick and mortar building. Buildings don’t educate your children. Buildings don’t prepare your children for the work force. Buildings don’t prepare your children for university.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do they need an education when they are first in line for the vast majority of jobs anyway due to the ridiculous employment law?

      • Anon says:

        @6:33 pm – You think our employment laws are ridiculous because they don’t benefit YOU. Why don’t you go back to your country where white European descendants get the lion share of the privileges? Or are you just upset that your privilege doesn’t follow you where ever you go?

        • Anonymous says:

          6.33 is an idiot who does not realize that our “employment laws” as he or she calls them are much more liberal than those in the country they come from.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ridiculous? We’re getting pushed out of everything we go for? Last time I checked this is Cayman for Caymanians .

      • Guardian of Caymanians says:

        You should go back to the rock you crawled out from under. Cayman does not need people like you in it

    • Anonymous says:

      3:00 Dock or Schools !

  14. Anonymous says:

    With 40 mil as a price tag it seems they couldn’t build it somewhere else to help ease traffic in the area.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if DECCO is involved in this, again. Especially when CIG don’t like dealing with any overseas companies that are straight shooters and refrain from providing their clients with any “incentives”, if you know what I mean.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is the most exciting news!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how much of that $40m will end up in public officials’ pockets?

  18. Anonymous says:

    It’s not the buildings that are the problem….

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hope there are no opened classrooms, hope the roof does not leak and more importantly I hope the sewage system does not back up.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I thought it was an offense to carry out a trade or business in the Cayman Islands without being licensed. Does CASE have a view on this? Does government have to follow the law?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Well if we are going to spend that much on a school, make sure you import more British teachers with good pay. Our Caymanian children have a right to a decent free education that is competitive to the private schools most of us cannot afford. Make it so even the expatriate children will want to be there with the fee the same as the private schools. The private schools have had it too good for too long. Time to tax them and the revenue used to provide education for all!

    • Anonymous says:

      Tax good education. That’s a good one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tax private schools for operating better than public education? that will surely fix the issue, because all the cayman education system needs is just more money. Damn if only we had a little bit more money to spend on education, all will be settles /s

    • Anonymous says:

      the teachers aren’t a big a problem as you think. Parents are.

      • Ursula Foster says:

        Absolutely ! Kids need parenting and parenting classes – teachers aren’t there to raise your kids or babysit that’s the role of the parent !!! Children in third worlds countries walk miles to go to a basis school and still manage to get to be doctors !!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree British teachers, Disagree taxing private schools which are already expensive.

    • Anonymous says:

      We don’t need British teachers, what they need is to go back to having Caribbean teachers who the children can relate to and having CXC being the main exams again. There are numerous successful individuals who have gone through the public school system; however the desire to be like the UK has weakened it, also not all parents spend the additional time outside of the classroom with their kids (granted some really can’t working multiple jobs just to pay rent). The school is just a building, teachers, students and policy create the learning environment.

      Why are we even allowing low level UK exams in our schools that the UK’s better schools won’t do.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nonsense. British qualifications are internationally respected, and held by employers as being superior to CXC’s. Whether that is fair or unfair is irrelevant. It is the way the world works. It is the same as saying that all being equal I prefer my lawyer to be at Maples, my phone to be from Apple, and my car to be a Bentley. Reputation is everything. Our children deserve to come through an education system that is held in amongst the highest repute. Igcse’s are. CXC’s are not.

        • Anonymous says:

          11:59 My partner is a teacher trained in the UK, she wouldn’t touch a teaching job out here with the proverbial bargepole. In fact she’d prefer to work with prison inmates than some of the feral kids in the schools here.

      • Anon says:

        5.39am I bet our local school inspectors who found fault with so many teachers in the Government schools were not talking about teachers from the U.K.

        • Anonymous says:

          4:13 p.m. How do you know they didn’t find fault with the UK teachers? How do you know which teachers had faults?

          The pressure on teachers is too much whether they are from the UK, US or Cayman! Do you know how much is expected of teachers? Teachers do more of except teaching these days. Teaching is last on the list as per the education bosses’ agenda.

          • Anonymous says:

            What is the pressure like on them if they are from Jamaica, Barbados or Trinidad?

            • Anonymous says:

              11:30 a.m. I’m not sure what the pressure is like on a specific nationality because everyone is being pressured by the system especially with the “New” National Curriculum.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why do you think our children can relate to “Caribbean teachers” 5:39? Just because they are black? Plenty Jamaican, Bajan and Trinny teachers I came across in our school system were very contemptuous of Cayman and Caymanian students, especially those who had taught in schools which drew their students from those who passed the 11+ entrance test prior to them coming here. Of course they liked the money and standard of living here. But as for understanding our students better than UK teachers (a favourite philosophy of Roy Bodden among others), no, it did not work out like that.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Why are we even allowing low level UK exams in our schools that the UK’s better schools won’t do”.

        If the kids can’t even pass the low level exams, what’s the point of ontroducing tougher ones before sorting out the obvious problems that lead to such a porr success rate?

    • fur-real says:

      You obviously don’t know that despite the rather high fees at the private schools, it actually costs government more per child to cover the education costs at the shitty government schools.

    • Anonymous says:

      You had me up until the third sentence.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Democracy is dead.

  23. Anonymous says:

    yep…ppm/alden obviously haven’t learnt anything from the clifton hunter fiasco….

    • Anonymous says:

      Or from the Walkers Building fiasco. Gotta love those foreign experts! England is exactly where I would go looking for persons with in depth knowledge of local construction methods, available materials, earthquakes, hurricanes, high humidity, tropical climate, the effects of salt in the air and resulting corrosion. NOT.

      • Anon says:

        3.59pm Of course, we go to Jamaicans for this expertise.

        • Anonymous says:

          Plenty of highly capable locals, many trained in the UK and with extensive familiarity with our codes and those of South Florida.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well, the late Mike Brown (originally from Jamaica) had no difficulty in telling the English architects that they were making a mistake, and they had no difficulty ignoring him. Cost them and the clients millions.

    • Anonymous says:

      of course they have. this time around their buddies will make even more money.

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