Minister addresses North Side School repairs

Education Minister Roy Bodden said North Side Primary School may be finished before June, but he has given the June timeline for completion as a realistic date based on projections and facts.

At a meeting of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Assembly Thursday evening North Side MLA Edna Moyles said something was radically wrong with it taking nine months to repair. Minister Bodden told her that the finish date could actually be before that but June was his estimation.

‘I’ve given a date I think is realistic based on projections and facts. All of the schools are in the same position. There are extraordinary circumstances. There’s only one Public Works Department and all government departments are calling on them,’ he said.

Ms Moyle said that the rafters had been replaced and plywood had been put on but no further work had been done on North Side Primary School. She asked Minister Bodden what the situation was.

Mr. Bodden said the contract for Phase three of the project was signed on 14 February, with work set to start shortly.

He said it was important to ensure that work was done to the highest possible standards.

Phase one and two were complete. He said it was not unusual for a contractor to subcontract out work.

‘I didn’t set up the contract. I’m just going by the information I’ve received from Public Works,’ he said.

When Ms Moyle said it was the Public Works people she should therefore be questioning Minister Bodden asked, ‘Is the work not being done? Is it not being done on time? Is it not being done to a high standard?’

Ms. Moyle said she was constantly being questioned regarding when the school would be completed and when the children could return to it.

Minister Bodden said he expected work on the school to commence on Monday and that it would be finished by June.

Ms Moyle said that gave her even greater concern. Work had commenced, she said, after the hurricane and now, five months on, she was being told it would take another four months.

‘There’s something radically wrong if it’s going to take another five months to repair North Side Primary School. North Side had the least damage but our school is taking nine months to repair,’ she said.

Minister Bodden said that Public Works was taking care of a lot of Government buildings and the schools need assessing and re-engineering, which takes time, he said. It takes extra diligence and conscientiousness to re-build the schools to a higher standard than before, he said.

Ms Moyle said the North Side school has had its rafters replaced, it has been re-engineered and has had plywood and ice and water put on it.

‘We need shingles, a ceiling and sheetrock walls,’ she said.

Minister Bodden said that the children had not been educationally disadvantaged through all of this.

‘I agree, the kids and teachers have done a great job in the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre,’ she said. However, she pointed out that if the situation continues to June the area will have no building for public meetings or forums.

Minister Bodden also pointed out that the roofs on the public libraries need to be designed and upgraded with interior and exterior repairs. This was taking time to do properly, he said.