Construction on a high school at Frank Sound could begin in a few weeks.
The soon-to-be presented revised Cayman Islands Government budget is expected to reflect a focus on education with primary attention going to the new school.
This 2004/2005 budget was put under overall revision after Hurricane Ivan so spending by portfolios, ministries and departments could be chopped to make free money for Cayman’s recovery effort. Repairing schools has emerged as a leading public spending area.
Though an item within the upcoming revised budget, approval for work on the Frank Sound high school got the go ahead under an earlier revision prior to the storm when the Finance Committee of the Legislative Assembly gave the Ministry of Education an additional $4.1 million, out of which $3.5 million goes to site work on the school.
The estimated $30 million project is going to be on a 26-acre spread next to the fire station on Frank Sound Road, and work is expected to be completed in three years.
‘I expect to have the ground-breaking ceremony probably at the end of the month or early next month,’ Education Minister Roy Bodden said.
The school should bear the name of a prominent Caymanian educator, Mr. Bodden said. Naming a person is going through the final stages of approval before that person can be identified.
‘I have already notified the family, and now have to take it to Cabinet.’
The school is expected to eliminate the burden of the daily trek to George Town for Bodden Town, East End, and North Side children. The school will have the capacity to seat 1,000 pupils, although only 700 are expected to be in attendance annually.
Mr. Bodden expressed pride that he, as minister, pushed through Cabinet the idea that there should be a large capacity auditorium.
‘It is my proposal to have an auditorium holding 3,000 to 5,000 persons,’ he said.
This high capacity auditorium is to counter situations found at other high schools during educational functions, especially graduations, where there is limited space forcing school administrators to severely limit the number of invitees per child.
‘It is to be a state-of-the-art high school, a model for the future,’ he said.
It will be built to the strength of the recently completed Prospect Primary School, which played an outstanding role as a shelter during passage of Hurricane Ivan.
Mr. Bodden said that unlike the Prospect facility, only a part of the Frank Sound School will be used as a hurricane shelter.
He said construction of a secondary school for the eastern districts was an idea he had in mind since entering parliament. In this regard he paid tribute to North Side MLA Edna Moyle who bore the same sentiments and pushed for it along with him.
The extra amount of money to be allotted for repairs to the schools damaged by Ivan is unknown, but it is reasonable to expect that the upcoming budget will adequately address these needs.