The promise of a new home will bring much awaited relief to the strained facilities of George Town Primary.
Education Minister Alden McLaughlin announced in Finance Committee last week that the Ministry is in the process of acquiring a parcel of land in the existing school’s vicinity to build.
Space issues have forced the displacement of upper-year George Town Primary School students to Red Bay and Savannah Primary schools.
The school has been under strain for some time, since a flood in January 2003 rendered a portion of the school unusable, followed by the damage inflicted by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Following the demolition of some of the buildings, the school was only able to accommodate students up to Year 4.
‘Of our primary schools, George Town Primary has been the most neglected and experienced the worst problems,’ said Mr. McLaughlin.
‘When I took office, it was clear that certain decisions had to be made: should the school be rebuilt on the same site, should a second storey be added, or should we build on the adjacent annex field?’
‘To me, none of these options were satisfactory for the needs of a so-called inner-city school,’ said Mr. McLaughlin
He noted that despite the challenges it has had to face, George Town primary is one of the best-performing on the island.
A school inspection released in January praised the way the school inspires students’ positive attitudes to learning and provides for their personal development with a high calibre teaching staff. It also found that parents are very well involved and the school plays an important role in the community it serves.
The inspection report also noted school principal Marie Martin is passionate about providing the best possible care and support for students who communicated a vision shared by everyone involved in the life of the school.
In light of the challenges the school faces in both facilities and the security issues raised by the proximity of the heavily used annex playing field, Mr. McLaughlin said the best option appeared to be to move the school.
The government is in the process of purchasing a seven-acre property a minute’s walk away from its current location that the executive of the PTA agreed would make a suitable site for the school’s new campus.
Mr. McLaughlin said the new property affords sufficient space for school buildings able to house years 1 to 6 as well as a playing field, which will permit the school access to two playing fields.
In the meantime, the Ministry has decided to take measures to ensure the children now in Year 4 will be able to remain at the school next year instead of being forced to change schools.
The government has commissioned construction of two modular classrooms to temporarily house the Year 5 and, the following year, the Year 6 classes while awaiting the completion of the new school’s construction.