May 16, 2005 – Officials at St. Croix Central High are in high spirits since receiving the news of a favorable review by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools on Friday.
"We are up beat," Daryl Richards, assistant principal said on Monday. "We worked hard in the past two years on the self-study report." Richards said MSA determined CHS met all 12 national standards, which includes all aspects of institutional learning, school operations, curricular and instructional standards as well as strategic planning requirements applicable to all schools accredited by Middle States Commission
Richards said campus upgrades, which have been lingering for years, are being addressed. He said several areas have been refurbished including classrooms, male and female gym locker rooms, special education rooms and several science labs. In addition, new science labs were built, the parking lot was resurfaced and a student pick-up and drop-off pavilion is being built in the main parking lot.
"We have been asking for these issues to be completed for years and they were done in six weeks," Richards said. "I was amazed." Richards gave some credit to the PTSA for helping to move the improvements along. "It took the PTSA to stage a demonstration before things got done," Richards said. "It's amazing what can get done when the pressure is put on."
On March 4, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull called a meeting with the PTSA to discuss actions taken by the administration to improve CHS. Education Department employees, cabinet members and about 200 concerned parents attended the unprecedented meeting. (See "Protesters Show Up for Governor's Party Despite Friday Night Meeting"). As a result of the meeting, the governor issued an order of exigency to waive certain provisions of the V.I. Code. The order allowed the Department of Education to purchase supplies, equipment and contractual services to do essential cleanup, repair, and construction of classrooms necessary for the four public high schools' accreditation.(See " Governor Proclaims Schools Can Bypass V.I. Code ").
Richards said work at the school is far from complete. He said work needs to continue while students are out of school over the summer. Richards talked about fixing sewage and drainage problems, replacing windows and refurbishing bathrooms. "There are a lot of issues with drainage," Richards said. "Right now it is raining and the corridors are flooded."
Richards said it will be up to the governor to make sure the summer improvements are done on a timely basis. "Middle States made it clear that we will continue to be evaluated from time to time," Richards said. "We no longer have political friends there to smile on us and give us extensions."
In a press release issued Friday, Dr. Noreen Michael, education commissioner, said she was "extremely pleased" at the announcement of a favorable recommendation for CHS. Michael said, "There is still much work to be done," adding that the school will be visited again by MSA "to insure the capital projects now underway have been completed."
According to the release, CHS received several commendations from the MSA validation team, chaired by Dr. Clair "Bud" Brown. CHS was commended on the commitment of their bilingual teachers and creating a beneficial learning environment with an emphasis on safety and health.
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