The gate will come down; Jack Hayward High to be reintegrated, says Fitzgerald
Freeport News Reporter
Jack Hayward High School will be reintegrated into one school when the new school year begins in September, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald revealed Friday.
The shared campus has been separated into a junior and senior school since 2010, when former Minister of Education Desmond Bannister made the decision to add a junior section and an iron gate was erected to separate the campuses.
The minister of education, science and technology said during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister that several factors influenced the decision to reintegrate the school.
"The first was that you had this steel fence almost between the two schools, which really made it feel when I visited, it felt like you were in prison and I just didn't think it was conducive to the atmosphere there," he said.
Fitzgerald added that there were also issues relating to the management and leadership of the school campus that arose because it was one facility.
He noted that he was also concerned about the impact the separation was having on the junior school.
"We wanted to open it back up, make sure that we had a strong administrative team in place and make sure that the leadership in there was essentially in complete control of that campus," he said.
Fitzgerald said when he met with parents at the school on Thursday night, their chief concern was with regard to the uniforms, which he noted will remain unchanged.
"The junior high school will remain with the uniform that it had and the senior high will have their uniform, so there will be no merging of the uniform into one," he said. "Moving forward we are going to discuss whether we do at one point bring them together, but at this point, I can tell you the thinking is that we are minded not to," he said.
As for what has become of the former administrative team at Jack Hayward Junior High School, Fitzgerald said the Ministry of Education has already found positions, so they would be allocated to other areas on the island where they are needed.
During the press conference Friday, Fitzgerald made two other major announcements that would impact education on the island - one, the long anticipated relocation of the Lewis Yard Primary School and plans for the reorganization of schools in East Grand Bahama.
For years the location of Lewis Yard Primary near to the island's industrial sector has been a concern of residents.
With complaints of headaches, vomiting and noxious odors on many occasions forcing the school to close early, the government has decided to relocate the school to the former St. Vincent de Paul Primary School campus in September.
Fitzgerald said the move was the result of an agreement reached between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Grand Bahama and the Catholic Board of Education that has decided to rent the former St. Vincent de Paul Primary School campus to the government.
While Fitzgerald would not share how much the government is renting the property for, he noted that it is a nominal fee and nowhere near what you would normally pay.
"I think the Catholic Board has been very accommodating and we are very appreciative to them. The amount is nowhere to what you would normally pay, so again the Catholic Board has taken the view that with regard to the education and the safety of the kids they were in full support of it and they had the facility there and we have worked together of course over many, many years - the government and not only the Catholic Board, but other religious denominations with regards to discharging our obligation to educate the children of The Bahamas," Fitzgerald said.
He noted that because the Lewis Yard community had been awaiting the relocation of the school for so many years, he anticipates the government's plan would be well received.
As for the reorganization of schools in East Grand Bahama, Fitzgerald said, discussions with residents in Freetown, High Rock and McLean's Town had been taking place for a while.
"We have arrived at a decision, in conjunction with the community in East Grand Bahama where we will use the Freetown school as a preschool. Also McLean's Town will be used as preschool and we will use the High Rock Primary School as the primary school for the East Grand Bahama area," he said. "Further, we have decided that beginning in September we will introduce the beginning of the secondary high school in McLean's Town and we will begin with grade seven in September of 2012 and we will be looking to move as we move forward to eventually have McLean's Town be the lower secondary school in East Grand Bahama."
Fitzgerald said with the initiatives, the government hopes to deliver education on the island in a more efficient manner.
Minister of Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville commenting on the relocation of Lewis Yard Primary School said, the residents in the Pinder's Point and Lewis Yard communities have complained about possible contamination in the air by industrial companies for years now and the relocation of the school is the government's first step to address their concerns.
"As a result of the ongoing environmental concern and the possible health risks to our students, staff and teachers of the Lewis Yard Primary School, the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Grand Bahama have taken steps to begin the relocation of the Lewis Yard Primary School to St. Vincent de Paul grounds for the academic year commencing September 2012," he said.
He said the move has the support of the major industrial players including the Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO), the Grand Bahama Power Company and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
Darville shared that the relocation of Lewis Yard Primary School would be temporary.
"One of the aspects of the Ministry of Grand Bahama in our portfolio is the construction of two schools in Grand Bahama and that is outlined in our Charter for Governance," he said. "That particular infrastructural development on Grand Bahama is a joint venture between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Grand Bahama. We will start that process for a permanent location for the Lewis Yard Primary or we will work out the details and inform you as we go as relates to the permanent solutions."
Darville said the government felt a short term solution was needed to combat the challenges teachers and students have had to bear with for years.
"The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Grand Bahama with participation of the Ministry of Health will play an important role on the final solution, which we are working on at this time," he said.
Darville added that the old Lewis Yard campus would be used to house Urban Renewal offices in the area and an office on the Ministry of Grand Bahama that would be crucial as preparations begin for the relocation of the community.
In addition, he said the school grounds would be used as classrooms for technical training for BORCO and the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).
© 2012 The Freeport News