John Gray construction business case under way

John Gray construction business case under way

The mistakes and cost overruns that marred the construction of Clifton Hunter High School will not be repeated as government looks to complete John Gray High School, a senior education official has vowed. 

Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education Christen Suckoo said a careful planning and budgeting process is taking place before work resumes on John Gray High School.

He said a strategic outline case has been approved for the project, which will be completed in three phases over the next several years, starting with the gym. 

Mr. Suckoo said an outline business case is being developed in line with new regulations for capital projects. He said a steering committee has been established with the relevant expertise to guide key decisions, and a senior project manager would be hired in the coming weeks. 

“Experience is a great teacher and as chair of the steering committee I am much more experienced now at looking at these things and seeing where they are going awry,” said Mr. Suckoo. 

Speaking at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, following an auditor general’s report on the mismanagement of the high schools construction between 2008 and 2013, Mr. Suckoo said new processes are in place that would prevent the same errors from being repeated. 

He said the auditor’s report will be required reading for ministry staff. 

“I don’t expect to see the same mistakes being made. We have clear direction on how to move forward. We know where issues lie. 

“If these kind of mistakes are made again, we need to look at why and if action needs to be taken.” 

He said finding a contractor who is willing to touch the schools projects has been difficult in the aftermath of lead contractor Tom Jones International walking out on the job in 2009. 

He added that completing John Gray High School in phases would make it an easier sell to construction firms. 

“The plan is to award a tender to a single contractor and they will deal with the subcontractors,” he said. 

Mr. Suckoo said some additional work would be required to assess the state of the site, which has been abandoned for three years. There will also be some redesign work. As of March 2012, $54.4 million had been spent on the half-built school. At the time, then-Education Minister Rolston Anglin estimated a further $43 million would be required to finish the job. 

The Ministry of Education has not released the strategic outline case for the completion of the school. 

Students continue to attend the John Gray High School on Academy Way, pictured.

Students continue to attend the John Gray High School on Academy Way, pictured. Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education Christen Suckoo says a careful planning and budgeting process is taking place before work resumes on the new school site on Olympic Way. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY
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