The Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) entered into an agreement with the V. I. National Guard (VING) on St. Thomas to retain the volunteer services of national guardsmen and guardswomen to help complete critical summer maintenance projects at four schools in the St. Thomas-St. John District.
From July 15-26, approximately 40 National Guard members completed either plumbing, electrical or carpentry work at Charlotte Amalie High School, where they helped replace walls that were previously removed to facilitate asbestos abatement; at Yvonne Milliner Bowsky Elementary School, where they constructed walls for an employee restroom; at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School and Uller F. Muller Elementary School, where they completed plumbing work.
According to Department of Education Chief Operations Officer Dionne Wells-Hedrington, Ed.D., the partnership was set in motion when the National Guard approached St. Thomas-St. John Insular Superintendent Stefan Jürgen and offered to help.
The agreement is a win-win for VIDE and VING, ensuring some of the department’s summer maintenance projects are completed for the Sept. 3 opening of the 2019-2020 school year, while providing the volunteers with valuable training opportunities.
On St. Croix, the Bureau of Corrections assisted the Department of Education with transporting and offloading various building materials at Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School (now Pearl B. Larsen K-8) donated by Home Depot, through the efforts of Senate President Novelle E. Francis Jr. The materials, amounting to a $900 donation, will be used to complete work at the newly reconfigured K-8 school.
“The Department of Education is grateful for the support of community partners like the V.I. National Guard, Bureau of Corrections, Senate President Novelle Francis and Home Depot,” said Education Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin. “It is exactly through partnerships like these that we will continue to move forward as a department, but most importantly as a community.”
Materials for work being done at the St. Thomas schools were purchased through Department of Education funds allocated for school maintenance.