The Federal Emergency Management Agency officially approved the replacement of the Arthur A. Richards Junior High School, damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. This approval allows the Department of Education to begin negotiating costs for the construction of a new school on St. Croix.
The New Schools Construction Advisory Board, made up of professionals from the Department of Education and other V.I. residents, began working on a facilities master plan in January. According to a news release from the Office of Disaster Recovery, in the Public Finance Authority, the board, led by Education Department Chief Operating Officer Dionne Wells-Hedrington, is moving forward on plans to repair and reconstruct the territory’s schools. The Education Department has selected the Evelyn Williams School site as the location for the construction of the first school in the new master plan.
Requests for proposals were issued for the demolition of both the Arthur A. Richards and the Evelyn Williams campuses in April. Demolition work is scheduled to begin over the summer and be completed by the end of the year, according to the release.
The Arthur Richards replacement will be the first of several new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade schools being developed by the Education Department. It is conceived as a five-building campus.
“The new design will address criteria integrally linked to successful student and teacher engagement as well as 24/7 security, sustainable and resilient building systems, thermal, visual and acoustical comfort, natural light, technology-enhanced learning and furniture and finishes that celebrate the vernacular of the Virgin Islands,” Wells-Hedrington said.
When construction funding is finalized, the concept diagram developed by DLR Group during the master planning process will serve as a starting point for the design of Arthur Richards.
“AARJHS is the first official determination for replacement,” Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien said. “Five additional sites are currently under consideration for replacement by FEMA to include the Addelita Cancryn Junior High School, Charlotte Amalie High School, Julius Sprauve Elementary School and the Curriculum Center on St. Thomas. We have submitted 19 more schools for consideration,” she said in the release.
The federally mandated facilities master plan will establish building standards and scope of work for all the planned new Department of Education facilities. The plan is scheduled to be completed on June 30. The Department of Education will host a virtual public hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 3.