Collectivité acknowledges delays in reconstruction of some schools | THE DAILY HERALD

MARIGOT–President Daniel Gibbs and Vice-President in charge of school affairs, Annick Pétrus received the heads of secondary schools on Monday, August 27, to review the reconstruction work undertaken during the summer holidays. A similar meeting will be held in the middle of the week with primary school principals.

The Collectivité used the summer vacation period for reconstruction of schools damaged by Hurricane Irma. Its objective was to do everything in its power to ensure each student returned to school with peace of mind. President Gibbs insisted on implementing all possible actions to “optimise” the start of the 2018 school year in what has been an unprecedented context.

There are indeed delays in the work that is still going on in the four secondary schools, the Collectivité admitted in a press release. However, it is doing its utmost to ensure that each student is welcomed in the best possible conditions in September.

Without off-loading its responsibility in this situation, the Collectivité deplores the fact that certain mandated companies have not taken seriously the stakes of the mission entrusted to them by contract. An optimised start to the school year was everyone’s business.
It reasoned that the “summer holidays” factor has played to the disadvantage of the projects undertaken. This period in July and August, the best time to carry out major works in schools, also corresponds to the period when everyone takes annual leave.

“This is the only time that the Collectivité can intervene safely without students present. Once the contracts are awarded, we are tied to the companies that won them. Of course, there are penalties for delays applied when works do not start as planned, but faced with the very high demand for works in this reconstruction period, both from private individuals and from public entities, construction companies respond to many requests and sometimes find it difficult to carry out these works on time.

“We did consider breaking some contracts with companies that were too late or were not present at site meetings, but in this case, the work would have been delayed by another three months minimum, the deadline for awarding a new contract,” explained Vice-President Annick Pétrus, who also highlighted the very good work done by the majority of companies that were able to meet their deadlines.

Some work that should have started in July started in August, which led to delays in completion and some work was postponed until September.

The Collectivité wants to reassure the whole educational community while calling for a certain leniency in the face of this situation caused by the Irma disaster which devastated 95 per cent of public buildings. It says that it is working in full consultation with all the services concerned, including those of the State, school heads, teaching teams, parents of pupils and companies mandated for the work.

While understanding the impatience of teachers and parents, Vice-President Pétrus stressed that a protest movement at the start of the school year as threatened by unions would only delay the settling in of students.

There are less concerns for the Collège de Quartier d’ Orléans where work planned in the summer months is nearing completion. Only two classrooms will be missing for the start of the September school year.

The three other secondary schools are of the greatest concern. The prefab classrooms planned for the Cité Scolaire Robert Weinum in La Savane are not installed. Four of them that were financed by the Collectivité have been delivered, but in view of safety standards it is necessary to reinforce the floor attachments with heavy steel.

The company in charge of this work encountered difficulties in the maritime transport of this heavy steel. It assured the Collectivité that two prefab classes will be installed for the beginning of the school year, and two others afterwards.

Fondation de France is financing the installation of six other prefab classrooms which will be delivered within a few weeks and will complete the temporary classrooms.
According to Pétrus, while waiting for the arrival of these six additional classrooms, the four financed by the Collectivité are sufficient to accommodate all the pupils of Cité Scolaire which accommodates two Collèges and a high school.

As for the Lycée Polyvalent des Iles du Nord in Concordia, 65 per cent of its classrooms (compared to 50 per cent of the operational classrooms last June) should be recovered. At the beginning of September, the technical workshops and their classrooms will be rehabilitated for the beginning of the school year. Problems remain for the rest of the establishment where delays have been encountered in the repair of electrical circuits.

The other trades, particularly for false ceilings and plasterboard walls, have not been able to work. The repairs on the roof will start next week and the company in charge of installing the aluminium joinery has started work. Work on the hotel and catering rooms, as well as the library and the multipurpose room, as planned, will begin after the start of the school year and should be completed during the 2018/2019 school year.

A work schedule will soon be drawn up by the design office mandated. As long as the work is not finished in the restaurant and kitchen, students enrolled in the catering courses will continue to do their practical classes at the Cuisine Centrale.

For the Collège du Mont des Accords, in Concordia, the work carried out will make it possible to recover approximately 10 per cent of additional classrooms, passing to approximately 50 per cent of operational rooms in this establishment. A very tight occupancy plan for these classes, optimising timetables, has been put in place so that the situation does not penalise the pupils or the teaching teams.

President Gibbs and Vice-President Pétrus will be on SOS Radio 95.9FM today, Tuesday, at 9:00am and on Radio St. Martin 101.5FM on Friday, August 31, at 9:00am to discuss the situation.

Source: The Daily Herald