Government moves high school project forward

The partially completed John Gray High School building. - Photo: Alvaro Serey

The slow process of completing the new John Gray High School has taken another step forward.

The Cayman Islands government announced late Thursday that it has approved the outline business case for the project, which, in addition to the new construction, also involves the repurposing of the buildings that make up the current John Gray High School and demolition of most of what is now the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre.

The next phase for the projects will be procurement and design development. Contractors and consultants are being asked to make proposals on the final design.

KPMG, which developed the business case, determined that the optimum design option is to complete the school by adding to the partially constructed buildings to make them into a two-story, interconnected departmental high school building, according to a statement released by the government.

Price limits have been set on the different stages of construction, but are not being shared with the public.

“The affordability ranges for each of the projects includes fees and contingencies,” the statement said. “However, the budget for the projects will not be released at this time as a result of being in the process of tendering.”

Completion of the high school will be the first of three-stage project. The projected completion date is March 2021. However, in August, Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said she would push to have the new school ready by the end of 2020. She did not respond to a request for clarification.

The repurposing of the former George Hicks site, where John Gray is now housed, is expected to be complete in February 2022. The buildings will house CIFEC, the Department of Education Services, Student Services, Corner Stones, Parenting and Pregnant Teens, and space for the University College of the Cayman Islands to expand.

The third stage of the project will be the demolition of the current CIFEC facility – with the exception of the meeting hall, which will become a hurricane shelter, indoor sports facility and community hall – and the construction of a sports field for the high school. Completion is expected in September 2022.

Ms. O’Connor-Connolly said she expects the new high school to be a premier facility.

“In the same way that we have five-star tourist facilities, our children deserve a world-class facility that will demonstrate education as a major priority of the country,” she said in August, calling the project an important component of nation building.

During the development process, KPMG analysts actually downsized the footprint of the school.

Reducing the size of the school, the government said, will make it more comparable with similar campuses in other countries. The process also “identified efficiencies in the deployment of teaching staff which will enable better collegiality and (lead to) improvements in student and school performance.”

The business case will be available for public download from Monday at www.education.gov.ky.