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Monday, May 16, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesAFT WANTS EDUCATION EMERGENCY DECLARED

AFT WANTS EDUCATION EMERGENCY DECLARED

The union that represents local public school teachers wants the Turnbull administration to declare the same emergency for education as it did for the territory’s wastewater system earlier this month.
Cecil Benjamin, president of the St. Croix chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said the organization’s official position is – and has been – in support of an emergency declaration. Because of past conversations with Turnbull, Benjamin said both he and St. Thomas-St. John AFT president Glen Smith were under the belief that the Department of Education would receive the same emergency status that was given to the Department of Public Works two weeks ago.
Gov. Charles Turnbull gave Public Works, its commissioner and associated government departments authority to obtain supplies, materials, equipment and contractual services to repair the territory's sewer system without going through the competitive bidding process.
Benjamin said the territory’s public education system has a host of problems that need the same attention.
"We have poor infrastructure and an impending exodus of teachers," Benjamin said in an interview on WSTX radio. "We feel at this point and time there should be a declaration . . . to address these problems."
Over the weekend, Turnbull’s special assistant on St. Croix, Ohanio Harris, said that caution must be used when making emergency declarations. Harris said that with the global reach of the media, such declarations send out the wrong message about the territory.
He added that emergency declarations also can affect the local government when it seeks outside bond financing as well as scaring off potential investors.
Benjamin, however, said that past discussions with the governor indicated that an emergency declaration was going to be made to help the education system.
"The government is moving too slow on positions that it should be leading on," Benjamin said. "I’m very disappointed it hasn’t been done before."

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The union that represents local public school teachers wants the Turnbull administration to declare the same emergency for education as it did for the territory’s wastewater system earlier this month.
Cecil Benjamin, president of the St. Croix chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said the organization’s official position is – and has been – in support of an emergency declaration. Because of past conversations with Turnbull, Benjamin said both he and St. Thomas-St. John AFT president Glen Smith were under the belief that the Department of Education would receive the same emergency status that was given to the Department of Public Works two weeks ago.
Gov. Charles Turnbull gave Public Works, its commissioner and associated government departments authority to obtain supplies, materials, equipment and contractual services to repair the territory's sewer system without going through the competitive bidding process.
Benjamin said the territory’s public education system has a host of problems that need the same attention.
"We have poor infrastructure and an impending exodus of teachers," Benjamin said in an interview on WSTX radio. "We feel at this point and time there should be a declaration . . . to address these problems."
Over the weekend, Turnbull’s special assistant on St. Croix, Ohanio Harris, said that caution must be used when making emergency declarations. Harris said that with the global reach of the media, such declarations send out the wrong message about the territory.
He added that emergency declarations also can affect the local government when it seeks outside bond financing as well as scaring off potential investors.
Benjamin, however, said that past discussions with the governor indicated that an emergency declaration was going to be made to help the education system.
"The government is moving too slow on positions that it should be leading on," Benjamin said. "I’m very disappointed it hasn’t been done before."