Education officials have declined to share the final projected cost for the John Gray High School project, saying negotiations are still in progress.

The project came under the spotlight during Finance Committee late Tuesday night as Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders questioned the final costs for the project.

The multi-million-dollar project was halted back in 2012 due to contractor issues and a government funding crisis.

At that time, around $54 million had been spent on the project, which recommenced in 2017. The school’s gym was completed that same year. The project has undergone a radical redesign, moving away from the original plan for separate academies and open-plan classrooms.

In September, the Central Planning Authority gave the greenlight for the project to move ahead, with estimated costs pegged at $40 million.
Saunders, in questioning the spending on the project Tuesday night, asked for projected completion timelines.

Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said the anticipated completion date is 2021 and it is hoped that in fall of that year the transition of John Gray High School to the new site will be finished.

Education Ministry Chief Officer Cetonya Cacho said early works are due to begin January 2020.

“Project A, which is the building of the new school, should be finished by late 2021 and early works are required to achieve that target completion date,” Cacho said. “Site survey, clearance and preparation work commenced in July 2019 as part of the pre-construction agreement. There were just a few delays because we changed the scope to ensure that it was a hurricane shelter and increase the capacity of that hall and the school building.”

Saunders pressed further on the anticipated cost for the whole building.

“We are still negotiating contracts. I do not have that price,” Cacho responded.

He questioned if the building will be ready to accept students for the September start of the 2021 academic year.

“I know the intention from the project staff is to have students in the building for the start of the school year,” she said.

Saunders also questioned the ministry’s allocation of $5 million set aside for other construction upgrades to schools.

Cacho explained that the funding will be used for the construction of reception classrooms at Red Bay Primary School, construction of a hall and renovations at Bodden Town Primary School, as well as ICT procurement for schools. Additionally, she said, the money will be used for construction of football fields with artificial turf and the new Sunrise Adult Training Centre.

Finance Committee ended Thursday evening.

John Gray Project highlights
Delays in the project caused it to be paused in 2012

Gym was completed in 2017

Approval granted in September 2019 for the school to be restarted

The new school will be able to accommodate 1,200 students

The project will be delivered in phases

New school expected to be completed late 2021

The associated playing fields to be completed by August 2022

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.