The Guy H. Benjamin School Parent Teacher Organization will meet on Thursday, October 25, at 6:30 p.m. at the school to discuss the impact of a new island school campus on the historic Coral Bay elementary school.
“It is important that we have the highest possible attendance to allow the GBS PTO to take a united position on behalf of its members for the preservation of the Guy H. Benjamin School as a community school serving the eastern portion of St. John,” said GBS PTO president Tom Oat.
“I strongly believe that a new and improved Guy H. Benjamin School should be retained as a community elementary school serving the Coral Bay area from East End to Saltpond to Mamey Peak,” Oat continued. “But I want to know if the PTO members want to save the school.”
Previous PTO presidents Lorelei Monsanto and Kristen Cox — are members of the One Campus group which has promoted plans to combine the Guy H. Benjamin and Julius E. Sprauve schools and construct a single island educational facility, including a high school, on a campus in Estate Catherineberg.
Officials have also discussed opening a University of the Virgin Islands satellite facility there.
A bill authorizing the U.S. Department of the Interior to lease land to the V.I. government for the education facility recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources and is expected to be heard on the House floor in the next few weeks before going on to the Senate.
“The last two presidents of the GBS PTO are strong advocates of a one-campus school which would result in the closing of Guy H. Benjamin School,” said Oat.
“While every one on the island is in favor of moving JESS from Cruz Bay, there has been no discussion about the future of the Guy Benjamin School,” Oat said.
St. John School Land Bill Passes Resource Committee
Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen’s bill to provide land for a school on St. John cleared another hurdle Wednesday, October 10, as the Committee on Resources unanimously approved it, sending it to the full House for consideration.
H.R. 53 authorizes the Secretary of Interior to enter into a long-term lease with the government of the Virgin Islands to provide land for a school.
Christensen proposed H.R 53 in January and hosted hearings on it on St. John in July. It cleared the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, which she chairs, September 20.
“I am very pleased to see the movement of this important bill, and I thank my chair and the subcommittee staff for their hard work as well as the One Campus group for all of the work they are doing to ensure that the school becomes a reality,” Christensen said.
The St. John school bill is expected to be heard on the House floor in the next few weeks.
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