The Virgin Islands Department of Education recently received a letter penned by a delegation of past educational leaders in the St. Thomas – St. John District about the decision to place modular classrooms on the Charlotte Amalie High School athletic field. Five legitimate queries were enumerated and the Department wishes to respectfully respond.
According to VIDOE, a site adjacent to CAHS will now be prepared for a new field for physical education classes and team practices, for one year. Why prepare a new site off the campus for a field and not for modular classrooms? What will this field look like? What happens after that one year?
The land adjacent to the west of Charlotte Amalie High School (CAHS) belonging to the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (HFA) will be used to create a practice field for recreational use until December, 2018. The site is too small to hold the required number of modular and Sprung units needed to house the Addelita Cancryn Junior High School. In addition, HFA has scheduled construction to begin on this site January 2019. Additionally, the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation is allowing VIDE to use its fields and facilities for recreational and educational purposes. The timeline will allow the District and school to work through reasonable options once school is back in session.
How long will modular classrooms remain on the CAHS field? What is the plan for removal? What written guarantees are there identifying the timeframes and persons responsible for removal?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Policy requires that the Modular and Sprung units be removed and the sites be restored back to its original state after that period for use ends as the policy establishes. The Modular and Sprung useful lifecycle ends once the purpose for the temporary facility is achieved. VIDE is required to contract the services of an Architectural and Engineering firm to remove the modular and sprung units. As it relates to timelines, permanent repairs and rebuilding processes in the Virgin Islands is the determining factor of the modular and Sprung unit lifecycle. See FEMA Public Assistance Program and Policy Guidelines FP 104-009-2 April 2018 pg. 84.
Where and when will a new ACJHS be built?
At this time there are multiple prospective sites where the Addelita Cancryn Junior High School can be built but no decisions have been made. Nevertheless, based on the Further Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act (H.R. 1982 Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018), it is prudent to evaluate the true disaster cost for repairs and rebuilding for the entire 3 million square feet of the Virgin Islands Department of Education’s (VIDE) footprint before determining a site for rebuilding. VIDE plans to have charrettes and town hall meetings when the sites are determined to allow the community to understand what choices exist. The cost for repairs and rebuilding was initially estimated at $800 million and has increased to $1.2 billion.
Where will the evacuation site be for all students in the event of an emergency on the CAHS campus?”
Students of CAHS and ACJHS will have safe rallying areas relative to emergencies (i.e., bomb threats, fire, tsunami etc.) Each disaster event requires different rally points. The rally point for a tsunami has not changed. There are evacuation points to the East and West of the CAHS and ACJHS campuses. This is coordinated with VI Fire Department and VITEMA.
Why weren’t other options selected, like integrating ACJHS students into other schools temporarily or repairing Abraham School for ACJHS students?
Bertha C. Boschulte is not an option for ACJHS students. Transporting students from the western end of the island to the eastern end of the island is a logistical inconvenience for parents and students. Gladys Abraham Elementary School will be repaired during the 2018-19 school year. The extensive damage sustained to the property prevented caused it to be ineligible for temporary repairs for the 2018-19 school year. Once the school is properly repaired, additional options can be considered. VIDE plans to have a public forum to discuss alternative options once the school is operational.
The Department understands the choice to place the temporary facilities on the highly-trafficked field was not popular, however, it was the only viable option and last resort and in a grave effort to return students to the full day instructional sessions they deserve. Once the temporary repairs to facilities and schools, are completed, recovery efforts will shift to permanent repairs. Addelita Cancryn Junior High is slated for a complete rebuild and the community will have the opportunity to be a part of the design of the new school.