Contractors Now on Board to Complete Repairs at Public Schools — in Two Weeks

Coral Bay’s Guy H. Benjamin School is slated for numerous repairs this summer.

V.I. Department of Education officials have selected contractors to complete a long list of repairs at both of the island’s public schools, and officials are hoping that the work will be finished in two weeks.

“When the kids walk into school this fall, we want to make sure that everything that the principal requested to be fixed is done,” said Yahaya Bello, the V.I. Department of Education’s deputy superintendent for the St. Thomas/St. John district.

Both Guy Benjamin School (GBS) and the Julius E. Sprauve School (JESS) are slated to receive a long list of repairs.

Long List of Repairs
At GBS workers will install a new septic system; repair the roof over class rooms four and five; replace galvanized roof panels; install a new drainage swale and leach field; replace the existing fence and gate; pressure wash the building; and seal leaking cement.

Scheduled repairs at JESS are constructing a new drainage system; replacing galvanized roof panels on the industrial arts building; replacing the existing security gate; and grading and paving the parking lot.

When the department first put out the request for proposals, however, no one responded for the St. John work, Bello explained.

Reissued Request
“We didn’t get anyone to respond for the work on St. John,” he said. “We reissued it and got on the phone and called all the contractors listed in the phone book. We extended the deadline and now we have contractors on board.”

Although the contractors have been chosen, Bello did not wish to release their names yet.

“I hesitate to make the names public because there are some formalities to still work out,” he said. “The contractors have the provisional notices to proceed, but I want to make sure that all of our T’s are crossed and our I’s dotted.”

“As soon as we went through the proposal review and evaluation process and selected contractors, we gave them provisional notices to proceed,” Bello continued. “We wanted them to start immediately. They should be at work right now.”

Once all the paperwork has been completed, Bello said that he will share all information regarding summer school repairs with the public.

In the meantime, Bello said that he is hoping the contractors will complete the work in about two weeks.

“We want them to finish a week or two before school starts,” he said. “This will give us some time to get the cleaning companies in and wax the floors and such. They have a month at maximum.”

“We expect them to get in and get it done in two weeks,” Bello continued. “We can’t control the weather, so we have worked in some extra time, but two weeks is what we’re aiming for.”

Summer maintenance work is only one part of the ongoing maintenance that the V.I. Department of Education accomplishes, according to Bello.

“There are two phases,” he said. “One is the work that is beyond the scope of the district’s maintenance staff. We contract outside contractors for this work.”

For example, the V.I. Department of Education’s staff doesn’t tackle projects like major roofing work, Bello explained.

On-going Maintenance
“The second phase include those things which we can do in house which are ongoing all year,” he said. “Some things are easier to do during the summer than during the school year. Even though we might not finish every thing that the principal asked for, maintenance is ongoing.”

“We have the wherewithal, just not sufficient manpower to address every single item,” Bello added.

The V.I. Department of Education has one person stationed on St. John who is responsible for maintenance at both GBS and JESS, Bello said.

“If he needs help, we send someone over from St. Thomas or we contract out,” he said. “I must stress that maintenance is ongoing.”