Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Public Works, Lt. Col. the Hon. David A. Burch, OBE (Mil), ED, JP, MP
Mr. Speaker, my second statement today is to provide an update on the work being done within the Ministry of Public Works related to the physical conditions of our school and their maintenance.
Mr. Speaker, you will recall that during the initial stages of this Government and the work carried out to prepare schools for September – we gave an undertaking to conduct a full and comprehensive Conditions Survey of all schools so that a methodical plan to address deficiencies could be devised and implemented. The intent of course is to avoid the mad rush every year during the summer to prepare schools for the next school year.
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Public Lands and Buildings within the Ministry of Public Works has responsibility for the maintenance and repair of some thirty 31 Government schools including pre-schools, primary and middle schools.
Now, Mr. Speaker, if you are keeping track of the number of schools you will note that those numbers have increased by 1 – I have taken the liberty of including the K. Margaret Carter Centre – the facility for the physically challenged co-located on Roberts Avenue with the Centre for Student Achievement – so that issues with that facility do not get over looked.
Ensuring that schools are fit for purpose and providing a safe and healthy environment is an ongoing exercise throughout the year that is managed jointly by teams from the Ministry of Education and the Department of Public Lands and Buildings.
In respect of the buildings themselves, the Buildings team works closely with the Ministry of Education Facilities Management team to identify defects and prioritize works based on Health and Safety, severity and school operations.
Mr. Speaker, next year the Ministry will be completing a comprehensive condition survey of each school with the assistance from the private sector. The Ministry will shortly be putting out to tender, requests for quotes from qualified Companies to complete condition surveys on all schools. These condition surveys will identify any defects within schools as well as prioritizing them for remediation - including estimated costs. This will also provide a basis for budget and planned preventative maintenance for the next 5 to 10 years.
Of note, Mr. Speaker, there are no 'as built drawings' on file for many if not all of the older schools – therefore, the production of these drawings for all of our schools is a very important element to be included with the conditions surveys.
Mr. Speaker, remedial works will be planned based on priority and whether or not they can be completed during the school term without disruption to school programmes, or must be completed during school holidays. Whilst we have a dedicated in-house works unit that will continue to carry out remedial works on schools, we will also continue to require the assistance of private contractors to ensure that the identified defects are dealt with in a timely manner.
It is anticipated that the surveys will be completed by the end of the 1st quarter next year and a decision be made early in the 2nd quarter – so that proper planning and preparation can occur well before the end of the summer break.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.