Work on the new John Gray High School is not expected to resume until mid-2019, with a multi-stage assessment process planned over the next two years to determine the best way to complete the project.

Construction on the new school first began in September 2007, but it was left half built amid a dispute with the major contractor.

Work resumed in 2016 on the school’s gym, which was completed earlier this year at a cost of $8.8 million, and will host a U.S. college basketball tournament next month.

Now government officials say they must follow a detailed planning, budgeting and tendering process – required for major capital projects through the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility – to complete the job.

KPMG has been hired to complete an outline business case, to help ensure “the needs of users of educational facilities are understood,” according to a press release from the Ministry of Education Thursday.

The report will also include research on “high performing jurisdictions” and an analysis of design, construction and operation costs of different options, according to Jonathan Matthews, senior project manager for the Public Works Major Projects Office.

The process will also involve consulting with students and teachers at John Gray.

Out of that report the consultants will develop a “preferred option” and begin submitting concept designs to the planning department, as well as soliciting bids for contractors. The next stage involves a final business case report to be submitted to Cabinet for approval before work can begin again.

Cost estimates for the completion of the school will form part of the analysis.

As of March 2012, $54.4 million had been spent on the project. At the time, then-Education Minister Rolston Anglin estimated a further $43 million would be required to finish the job. Since then, an additional $8.8 million has been spent on the gym.

Education Minster Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said completing the school was a priority.

“It is imperative that this project is completed and that the children of our country do not continue to operate in a state of flux. As a country, we must ensure that the same types of world-class facilities that are extended to those that visit our islands are made available to our own children,” she said in a press release.

The ministry’s Chief Officer Christen Suckoo said the completion of the new school would allow the older facilities to be used by the Cayman Islands Further Education Center and the University College of the Cayman Islands for vocational courses.

Jon Clark, principal of John Gray High School, said the gym, completed earlier this year, was already in full use for exams, physical education classes, and whole school assemblies. He said students, staff and parents would have input into the development of the new school through “intensive workshops” beginning next week.

Sheenah Hislop, partner of KPMG, which is responsible for the business case, said, “Our vision for this project is to work together with the ministry to achieve an affordable and value-for-money solution to deliver a center of excellence for education that shapes the thinking of current and future generations of students in the Cayman Islands. We will deliver a transparent business case to facilitate a way for the government of our islands to take this project forward.”

Mr. Matthews said the multi-step process, which began with the production of a strategic outline case for the completion of the school last year, was required for developments of this scale.

“This project is managed in accordance with the Major Projects Office process for large capital projects,” he said. “This process has seven distinct stages and is designed to ensure projects are only taken forward at each stage if they improve government services, meet the needs of the stakeholders, and represent value for money, while maintaining affordability.”

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