Mothballed John Gray school construction project to resume

McAlpine awarded contract for $7.9m sports hall job

Building contractor McAlpine has been hired to complete the sports hall at the new John Gray High School site as government prepares to resume the mothballed construction project.

Government has budgeted $7.9 million for the job, the first phase in a renewed effort to complete construction of the school, which was left half-built after money ran out.

The gym will be complete early next year in time for students to sit their exams in the new building in May 2017, officials said Wednesday.

McAlpine won the contract after a competitive bid process involving four other companies.

Education Minister Tara Rivers said, “I look forward to McAlpine delivering on the goals set for this project and handing over a building of which we all can be proud.”

Students, parents and teachers were consulted by the project management team before designs were finalized, she said.

Chief Officer in the Ministry of Education, Christen Suckoo, said officials had learned from the mistakes of past school construction projects.

“The project team took on board the lessons learned from the challenges and issues at Clifton Hunter High School, and consulted the teachers at that school on what is and isn’t working on that campus so as to avoid repeating or perpetuating the same issues at the new John Gray campus,” he said.

Government was forced to spend extra money modifying Clifton Hunter after educators said the open-plan design was not conducive to learning.

This time, teachers and John Gray’s new principal, Jon Clark, were consulted in advance.

Mr. Suckoo said suggestions included the addition of an automatic curtain to divide the hall and allow two classes to be taught at the same time; court striping for all indoor sports; and a new space for PE theory classes.

There is no indoor area for PE classes at John Gray High School.

Ian Pairaudeau, managing director of McAlpine, said, “We are delighted to contribute to the government’s effort to improve the educational facilities in Cayman.

“McAlpine has a long-standing history of providing high-quality construction developments in Cayman, and our team of well experienced construction professionals, all of whom are Caymanians, is more than capable of successfully completing the project.”

As of March 2012, $54.4 million had been spent on the new John Gray High School.

At the time, then-Education Minister Rolston Anglin estimated an additional $43 million would be required to finish the job.

The current government has indicated it will seek to complete the development in phases over a number of years.