79.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, May 18, 2024
HomeCommentaryLegislature CornerLegislature Corner: Sen. Frett-Gregory Calls on Administration to Stand Up the Bureau...

Legislature Corner: Sen. Frett-Gregory Calls on Administration to Stand Up the Bureau of School Construction and Maintenance

Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory is the vice-chair of the 35th Legislature’s Committee on Education and Workforce Development.  (Photo by Barry Leerdam)

Sen. Donna A. Frett-Gregory, vice-chair of the 35th Legislature’s Committee on Education and Workforce Development calls on Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. to stand up the Bureau of School Construction and Maintenance. Signed into law on April 25, 2023, and sponsored by Frett-Gregory, the Bureau of School Construction and Maintenance creates an entity responsible for school facilities and education-related buildings.

“Act No. 8717 requires that not later than 90 days after the effective date rules and regulations be promulgated to effectuate the statutory purpose of the act. It also requires that no later than 180 days after the effective date of the submission of the initial Master School Construction, Maintenance and Capital Plan. As we are now nearing the deadline for the submission of the Master School Construction, Maintenance and Capital Plan, I am calling on the governor to stand up the Bureau of School Construction and Maintenance,” said Frett-Gregory.

“The events of the last week coupled with the ongoing closures of schools across the territory for various maintenance issues make it astoundingly clear that priority must be given to maintaining our schools. We cannot continue doing the same things expecting different results,” said Frett-Gregory.

“The concept of a bureau focused on school maintenance and construction is not novel. Jurisdictions across the United States have adopted similar policies to address school facilities,” she said.

Act No. 8717 was initially introduced during Frett-Gregory’s first term in office as a member of the 33rd Legislature. The legislation required additional work and was reintroduced in the 34th Legislature, where it failed to get the votes in the committee of jurisdiction. Undeterred and determined to invest in our children’s education, the legislation was reintroduced in the 35th Legislature. “I was determined to give our children the same opportunity we have given our festivals in the territory and reintroduced the legislation earlier this year,” said Frett-Gregory.

“As a former commissioner of education, I am intimately aware of the fiscal juggling that must be undertaken to move simple maintenance projects forward, as historically over the years the Legislature has only appropriated $2 million dollars for school maintenance,” she said.

With this bureau, there is currently approximately $10 million dollars available to invest in our school facilities.

“While the focus appears to be on schools being rebuilt, schools not slated for rebuilding require repairs and maintenance,” said Frett-Gregory.

Moreover, the bureau is slated to receive $5 million annually from the general fund, 1% of revenues generated from the Southshore Enterprise Zone, along with 50% of the commercial income generated from the use of the former Cancryn campus by the V.I. Port Authority transshipment facility.

“It is important that we stay the course, as new schools are built, maintaining them must be a priority to avert the situation we are facing today,” concluded Frett-Gregory.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS