Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) Area Vice President for Grand Bahama Quinton LaRoda is optimistic that repairs at government operated schools on the island, will be completed before opening day of the 2019/2020 academic school year.
As the new school year quickly approaches, LaRoda took the opportunity to tour some of the schools, particularly those in the Freeport area on Friday, August 9, LaRoda admitted, during an interview with this daily Monday (August 12) that contractors have had some concerns.
“I spoke to some of the contractors, actually, who had a concern that the funding to begin the work came out a bit late and put them in a position where they had to try and hurry to get the work completed by the opening of school, but they remain optimistic.
“I also spoke to some contractors, who despite not receiving the initial payment to begin, they had the wherewithal to start. Sister Mary Patricia was one of those schools in particular; they have finished their work, even long before school opens.
“And so, this week will tell the tale as to how ready the schools will be, because now, I think, everyone has their funding and they are good to go,” added LaRoda.
As Sister Mary Patricia Russell had notable roof issues in dire need of repair, LaRoda shared that the contractors carrying out work to that particular school expressed to him that the issue was identified and would be rectified.
Questioned whether there were any other schools that were also in need of extensive repairs, LaRoda responded, “Sister Mary, I think in Grand Bahama, probably had the most work to be done. They had these vexing leaks that every year kept coming back. The contractor has assured me that he has found them, and he knows how to permanently solve that problem.
“The schools in Grand Bahama, itself, because of the repairs after the hurricane, they were still in pretty good shape for the most part; but leaks were the major issue. Sister Mary Patricia being one, but that is being addressed.
“The school in Grand Bahama that was in the worst shape was Bartlett Hill Primary School. I still have to go to Bartlett Hill, in the west, but that was the one that really had some severe damage and so that is one that I will check on this coming week.”
As far as teacher compliment is concerned for the 2019/2020 academic school year, LaRoda was questioned whether there is adequate staffing in place for the upcoming year.
“I do not anticipate any shortage of staff in Grand Bahama. I am constantly optimistic. The area, particularly for the junior schools, Jack Hayward Junior High School in particular, the shortages were in the elective areas; Music, Art, Agriculture and Science and so forth.
“I believe there has been some recruitment in some of those areas and so, I will know within a week or so exactly what is happening there. I do know that some work was done, some recruitment from Cuba for some teachers and some hiring out of The University of The Bahamas (UB).
“I do have a concern with the hiring, sometimes they do take way too long and so, the bodies are there; the teachers are ready to go, but the process of hiring for public servants sometimes takes long, especially the vetting from the police.
“If there are any challenges I believe it will occur in that area, where you have the teachers, people that are ready to come and teach but are waiting on the vetting process to be hired,” concluded LaRoda.