Where could a new school be built?

More than 100 people attended a Congressional subcommittee hearing on St. John on where a new kindergarten-12th grade school might be built. 

V.I. Delegate Donna Christensen, who sits on the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, convened the hearing to discuss her proposal to authorize the Dept. of the Interior to lease V.I. National Park land for the project.  (H.R. 53)

A representative of the V.I. Education Department said it would like to have 10 acres to build a campus including classrooms, cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium, according to a report of the meeting in the Virgin Islands Daily News.  A member of a group called One Campus testified saying it preferred 55 acres.

The big question is, of course, where is the land.  For years, Friends of the Park have endorsed a land swap, whereby the V.I. government would deed islands or cays it owns in exchange for land at Catherineberg, in the middle of the island.  Rep. Christensen said St. John residents oppose that idea, and it’s off the table."

Friends President Joe Kessler testified against a land lease.  During the hearing, and in a letter to editor of the Daily News,
Kessler he explained a lease would be a "de facto gift … to the V.I.
government and will result in the net loss of National Park property
and resources."

V.I. senator At Large Carmen Wesselhoft – who seems to love real estate development (i.e. voting for Sirenusa twice) said she’d rather not stop at 10 acres of Park land.  According to the St. John Source, she said she wants 200 more acres from the Park for housing because land is too expensive for locals.

In an editorial, the Virgin Islands Daily News urged a go-slow approach to the idea of replacing Sprauve and Guy Benjamin
Schools.  "Their existing sites … remain good locations."  While the
perceived need for new schools is pressing now, "(it) may not be in
another decade.  This is a trend faced by many small towns."

Currently, 304 students attend the island’s two old and
dangerous schools (no matter what the News thinks) in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay.  Another 60 to 70 pupils
commute to St. Thomas by ferry to attend high school there.

4 thoughts on “Where could a new school be built?”

  1. I offer my comments as a frequent visitor to St. John, and a former teacher, high school administrator and assistant superintendent of a large district in Michigan. I believe the current location of the school in Cruz Bay is inappropriate for children. There is too much traffic, both vehicular and human. I have not been inside the school, but if the playground is any indication, the facility is insufficient.
    For high schoolers, while having to take the ferry to Red Hook is inconvenient, there is a distinct advantage in attending a larger high school, which has more to offer in curriculum, activities and athletics.

  2. What is the estimated cost of a new school on St. John ? How will it be funded? We own a small educational consulting business, and would like to be of assistance in promoting education on the island.

  3. Dear Rick:
    The cost of a school has not even been mentioned. Unless there are federal funds, I can’t imagine where it’s going to come from.
    But here’s something that will spur THAT discussion.
    Property owners are waiting for new tax assessments and, then the 2006 bills. It has always been a complaint that while St. John, arguably the most prosperous of the three islands, contributes so much money to the government, it gets relatively little back.
    Others have tried to get a reading on how much the island does send across the Sound. No success.
    When faced with the perception, if not the reality, that St. Johnians are going to be sending even more – either in do9llars or ads a percentage of the whole – many on island can be expected to raise the call again for St. John to receive its fair share of money.
    A new school, a parking garage, improvements at the Myrah Keating clinic, sidewalks downtown, roads that are not potholed beyond belief … the list can go on and on.
    Just wait.
    As for being of “assistance in promoting education on the island” you might contact the St. John Community Foundation Box 1020 St. John, USVI 00831 (Sorry, I can’t find a Web site for them.)

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