The Chairman of the Barbuda Council, Wade Burton, is assuring the public that the safety of students of the Holy Trinity School in Barbuda will not be compromised when the school reopens its doors in January 2019.
The Council has been repairing the facility that was damaged by Hurricane Irma last year September, despite pushback from the Development Control Authority (DCA) and the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda.
“We are building with the highest level of expertise and we are confident that the school is safe and usable for the students of Barbuda. We have donors who also contributed and we are not using their monies to build something that will make them look bad,” Burton said.
In August, the DCA issued a stop order for the Council to halt repairs to the building after questioning the safety of the structure. Then, in October, the government agency requested that a comprehensive engineering assessment be done to determine the structural integrity of the property.
In the October 23 letter, in which the request was made, the DCA advised Burton that the submission of an application for renovation of a public school falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
It further advised that the submission for development permission is done through that ministry with instructions from the Director of Education, and that the request for a comprehensive engineering report is in keeping with claims made by the Cabinet that the building is not structurally sound and students would not be allowed to move back into it.
Burton told OBSERVER media that the Council has provided all the documentation requested. In a recent interview, he also went as far as to say that it would appear that the DCA is bent on putting hurdles in the path of the Barbuda Council.
Earlier this year, the government said it had identified a new site for the construction of a new Holy Trinity School, away from the old building that is currently under repair.
Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst said then that the location was approximately 15 feet above sea level, close to the Sir McChesney George Secondary School. He also noted that representatives from the Dominican Republic had promised to invest in the construction of the property, and as of June 28, they had spent US $1.5 million on drawings, soil testing, purchasing of building supplies and materials which were ready to be shipped to the sister island.
Burton said that the Barbuda Council is yet to see this promise materialise.
Currently, students of the Holy Trinity School are being accommodated in temporary classrooms in close proximity to the damaged building.