By Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Hon. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, says the government will construct a brand new Basseterre High School at the original site.
Architects have been engaged to design building plans for the construction of the school. According to Education Minister Dr. Hanley, those plans will be submitted to Cabinet for approval in short order.
He added that “we’re at the point where we’re going to have out for tendering in very short time looking at demolishing the buildings and getting the grounds ready.”
There have been a total of three education ministers who have promised to fix the Basseterre High School. Nigel Carty, who was the minister responsible for education at the time of the school’s closure up until 2015; Shawn Richards from 2015 to 2020; and Jonel Powell from 2020 to 2022.
The school’s closure in 2012 stemmed from contamination concerns. Teachers and students wore face masks and gloves to school to protect themselves. However, their efforts were futile, as teachers and students revealed that their gloves changed colour almost instantly and similar symptoms were being experienced.
After the school was shut down, the promise of a new school was made after an Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted. The assessment was also contested, with many saying the school could be decontaminated, renovated and reused as the school. However, those suggestions were not taken.
During the first press conference of the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party Administration on October 17, 2022, Dr. Hanley told reporters that, “the AG [Attorney General] is assisting me in terms of looking at the contracts that we had with Inotech that were proposing to build on the aquifer but you know that is a ‘no no’.
He continued: “In our findings thus far, we have spent almost $15 million to a group just to manage the project. I want us to indicate what project are we managing when it comes to the Basseterre High School.”
Initial plans for the school included 32 classrooms, a music centre with two dedicated music rooms, four science labs and six computer labs, a dedicated lecture room, counselling and health service facilities, an auditorium with a seating capacity for a minimum of 1,200 people and upgraded sporting facilities that will meet international standards.