Cayman International School is planning a $45-million expansion to meet growing demand for places.
A 9-acre site next to the existing school is being cleared and plans have been submitted for a new purpose-built high school and early childhood center.
The new buildings will free up space in the existing school, ultimately allowing for the addition of at least one extra class at every age group. The school’s director, Jeremy Moore, said the developments would take the school’s capacity from around 630 to 1,100 and almost double the size of the campus.
He said there are currently waiting lists for every age group in the school, which accepts children from age 2 to 18.
Demand is greatest for preschool children and Mr. Moore expects the new early childhood center to be almost full as soon as it opens in September next year.
He said the center has been specially designed for young children and would be the first of its kind in Cayman.
Features include a music and movement room, a library and a teaching kitchen, as well as an outdoor tricycle track and learning gardens.
He said the large play spaces dovetailed with the school’s interactive learning philosophy.
A similar approach dictated the design of the high school, which also includes a gym, media center, drama and music facilities, and science labs.
Mr. Moore said school staff had worked with the parent organization, the U.S.-based International Schools Services, and Dart Realty, which owns the buildings, as well as the project architects to ensure the expansion was custom built to its specifications.
“It is a game changer for us to have spaces designed to fit with our philosophy of education. We prefer collaborative approaches and project-based learning rather than kids sitting in rows listening to lectures,” he said. He said the flexible spaces would allow the school to diversify its curriculum, as well as adding capacity.
Mr. Moore said the school had been struggling to meet demand for spaces for some time – a situation he attributes to the success of CIS students, the programs offered at the school and the continued growth of the island.
Places are in short supply across the Cayman Islands, particularly for private schools, and Mr. Moore hopes the expansion will go some way to addressing that gap between supply and demand. The early childhood center is scheduled to open at the start of the 2019-20 school year, with the high school opening the following year. CIS will add classes in every age group as needed in the years that follow.
Mr. Moore said he was anxious that the school retain its character as it grows.
“We have been very strategic about our growth,” Mr. Moore said. “We have worked hard to make it happen the right way; we want to maintain the small class sizes and the family atmosphere.”
Lawrence Kline of project architect Perkins+Will said the aim was to create an academic center in a park-like environment that would enhance the Camana Bay community.
“The open, day-lighted spaces will allow for flexibility of use and the opportunity for formal and informal learning environments to enhance the current curriculum, emphasizing collaborative, multidisciplinary, team-based learning,” he said.