(Eleuthera, The Bahamas) The Gregory Town Primary school, which has been housed in the small, single room Jury Bar Society Hall building since the historic campus overlooking the bay was badly damaged by hurricane Irene in 2011, is said to now have a clear plan towards resolution.
On Thursday evening, June 29th, a town meeting was held at St. Gregory’s Catholic church, hosted by the Member of Parliament (MP) for the North Eleuthera constituency, Mr. Rickey Mackey, accompanied by Administrator for Central Eleuthera, Mr. Joseph Ferguson. New Minister of Education, the Hon. Jeff Lloyd attended the meeting, along with other Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Works personnel.
North Eleuthera MP, Mr. Mackey commented that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the replacement or repair of the primary school in Gregory Town, saying, “The children have been housed in the Lodge Hall for several years, and we wanted to put this vexing problem behind us. At the meeting, it was finalized that we are going to go with a new school at a new location. That location now annexes the new Pineapple Fest location. I can comfortably say that it was fully agreed to go to that location and to go with a new school. We anticipate groundbreaking in about two months’ time.”
The time frame for construction of the new school is roughly about one year, explained Mr. Mackey, adding that they were looking at an estimated cost of $5 million dollars for the new facility.
“We are happy to get to this place at this time, seeing that the people of Gregory Town have been longing for a new primary school for their children for quite some time. I am hoping that within 13 to 14 months from today, we can put a close to this chapter in the history of Gregory Town,” he remarked.
Minister Lloyd, during his address at the town meeting, commented that his mission was to know what was happening in all the education districts, adding that he was proud of many things, but distressed over the state of the physical plant of most schools. Minister Lloyd introduced his technical advisors from the Ministry of Works, Mr. Livingston Forbes and Timothy Johnson, who went on to present the plans for the new school to the audience of Gregory Town residents.
Some of the components included in the plans for the new facility included, classrooms, principal and vice principal offices, a sick bay, staff room, kitchenette, bathroom block, library, music room, computer room, tuck shop, as well covered walkways surrounding the school. The new location would also have enough space for a playing field for sports.
Some of the questions fielded by the visiting panel from attendees at the meeting included; concerns about flooding, the timeline for completion, as well as how construction contracts would be handled. Answers given by the panel addressing some of those concerns were that; Ministry of Works engineers would take the potential flood risk into consideration and make the relative adjustments; concerning contracts, the Ministry of Works would look for qualified local contractors; and the timeline of one year was communicated, with the goal of the facility being ready for the beginning of school in September of 2018.
North Eleuthera MP, Mr. Mackey, also clarified that the old school building on the bay, which had been condemned by engineers for use as a school, could still be used for other purposes, like a community center.