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Tight Budget Makes It Tough to Maintain Schools

July 31, 2004 – The V.I. government is under tight budget constraints. This has led officials at the V.I. Board of Education to admit it was not likely to carry out all of the maintenance projects needed for the territory's public schools.
However, some work is now underway to repair and provide upkeep to schools on St. Thomas and St. Croix and the board at its last meeting received an update on it
After hearing from Education Commissioner, Dr. Noreen Michael, Tregenza Roach, Board of Education director, said the school maintenance projects in process were an example of "doing more with less."
"Unfortunately there's never enough money for repairs and maintenance. The commissioner did indicate to us that she identified a million dollars that was allocated for school maintenance. It was split evenly between the St. Croix district, which received $500,000, and the St. Thomas St. John district, which received the other $500,000," the director said Friday.
As they keep their eye on the goal of getting accreditation for the four V.I. high schools, the board's concerns turned to those repair projects, according to Roach.
In advance of their meeting with Michael, some board members made site visits at the St. Croix Educational Complex, St. Croix Central High, Charlotte Amalie High School and the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. Each school, Roach said, had its own unique concerns. For Central High it was security; at the Complex the board met faulty water pumps. Visitors to CAHS heard about plans to demolish an old school warehouse and expand the school library. At Eudora Kean maintenance crews tried to beat back possible water damage from leaky buildings.
Separate from those concerns are a list of capital projects, which include building new facilities and replacing some old ones at some of the high schools.
As the start of the new school year approaches board members were also brought up to date on new programs and policies soon to go into effect. Of great interest to the board were plans to establish a new alternative school at the site of the former Edith L. Williams Elementary School.
Williams Elementary closed its doors as a mainstream elementary school at the end of the last school year. According to the director, all will be in place in time for the scheduled start of school in August. "They indicated they had allocated staff, they had designed a program with particular entry requirements could be identified," Roach said.
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