High Schools get OK

Grand Cayman’s three new high schools have the go-ahead from the Planning Department.

Site work is set to commence in September on the three new schools being built in George Town, West bay and Frank Sound. Construction is anticipated to start in January 2008 to ready the schools for a September, 2009 opening, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin announced Friday in Finance Committee.

He was unable to give a solid estimate for the cost of the project, saying that he could not comment since the projects have not gone to tender, but that it was certainly going to top the $100 million mark.

The John Gray replacement school will house 1000 students and incorporate the schools within schools concept in place at the revamped George Hicks, which has proved successful.

Building on that model, the school will feature four independent two-storey classroom buildings. Students from all four divisions will also have access to a performance centre, a design and technology centre, a global learning centre and a double gym.

Based on the same model, the West Bay school will initially cater to 500 students, while the Frank Sound school will initially be able to handle 750.

He explained that although the Ministry had considered it, the cost of building double gyms at West Bay and Frank Sound proved to be prohibitive, but other than that the schools will be similar.

All buildings will be built to Category 3 and 4 hurricane standards, but the high cost of the gyms is attributable to the fact that they will also be built to even higher hurricane shelter standards, as will the design and technology centres and global learning centres. The facilities will create another 4,500 hurricane shelter spaces for the Island, doubling capacity.

‘We are satisfied that the added cost makes sense as it saves building additional dedicated hurricane shelters that will stand empty for the majority of the time and because of their locations in areas that need more hurricane shelter space,’ said the Minister.

And to prevent the disruption of their studies, the stand alone buildings will also allow for students to attend classes in the school buildings even if a disaster requires the use of the other school buildings as short-term temporary housing.

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