Paying for top education

The Minister of Education Roy Bodden revealed plans this week to reform secondary education in the Cayman Islands with the construction of two new high schools and the rebuilding of John Gray High School.

Having one public high school in Frank Sound to service the Eastern districts and high schools in West Bay and George Town for those two districts will allow all students on Grand Cayman to attend a school relatively close to their home.

It will also allow for smaller classes, which gives each student a more personalised education. Mr. Bodden said studies have shown that smaller schools improve children’s behaviour and performance.

Mr. Bodden believes education plays a key role in the continued development of the Cayman Islands, and few could argue that point.

In addition to creating state-of-the-art educational facilities complete with wireless IT capabilities, the new high schools will be built as hurricane shelters.

One of the lessons we have learned from the Ivan experience is that Cayman needs proper hurricane shelters.

We also need our schools back on line as soon as possible.

It makes a lot of sense then to have our schools double as hurricane shelters.

There’s just one problem with all of these ideas:

Where’s the money going to come from to pay for these schools?

For these three schools, Mr. Bodden said it would cost $90 million.

Add the cost of teachers, administration, utilities, and regular building maintenance and price tag will go even higher.

If schools were the only major expense facing the country right now, there wouldn’t be such a problem.

However, there are also roads to build, government accommodation buildings to erect, an airport runway to extend and other infrastructure needs.

And then there’s the bill from Hurricane Ivan to pay.

Cayman needs schools because education is vitally important.

But the real task won’t be coming up with the idea to build more schools; it will be finding the money necessary to actually do it.

Let’s hope Mr. Bodden or any other person that might hold the post of Minister of Education after the elections is successful in that endeavour.

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