Saba’s school buildings and childcare housing were the focal points of a recent meeting in The Hague with a number of ministries. The Public Entity Saba and the ministries have shared ambitions where it concerns the School Housing Master Plan to further improve childcare, the Sacred Heart Primary School (SHS), the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS), the Godfried Bontebal Technical School and the gym.
One important decision that the Steering Committee meeting with representatives of the Public Entity Saba, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW), the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport (VWS) took was in relation to the Laura Linzey Daycare.
The Steering Committee agreed to construct the new building for the Laura Linzey Daycare and the afterschool care in The Bottom, and not in St. John’s as initially planned. Four plots of land will be purchased for this purpose. Talks will continue to secure additional external funding for this project.
It was determined during an earlier meeting that the designated area in St. John’s would not have sufficient space to meet the needs of the current childcare and afterschool care situation based on the Island Ordinance for Childcare.
Having the childcare and afterschool care building in The Bottom also has an advantage in that the facilities used by daycare and afterschool care, such as the library, the park and the sports field, are within walking distance.
The Steering Committee made an important decision with regard to the Sacred Heart Kindergarten. It was agreed to expand the kindergarten on the compound of the SHS by adding a level on one of the existing buildings which will be rebuilt.
The width of the classrooms will increase by 2 meters to create larger classrooms. The new structure will be built according to the BES building code. It was a specific wish of the SHS to keep the kindergarten within the school’s compound. The goal is to start the SHS project this summer.
Discussed during the meeting of the Steering Committee was also the shared ambition to expand and upgrade the SCS. The option to construct a new school building for the SCS on the vacant plot of land in St. John’s adjacent to the SCS, originally designated for a new childcare and kindergarten building, is being looked at. The current SCS building has outlived its functional and technical lifespan. Also being explored is the option to move the technical school, currently located at Cove Bay, and part of SCS, to a new location in St. John’s.
The options to construct a new, larger gym building were discussed during the meeting of the Steering Group as well. The current gym building has a severe leaking and ventilation issue, and there are also safety issues in terms of lack of court space during competitions, and there is no seating space for spectators. The gym building also houses the Expertise Center Education Care (EC2).
Adjust the scope
Commissioner of Education and Finance Bruce Zagers said that the progress with the school buildings project has been admittedly slow. However, this did provide the opportunity to adjust the scope to be able to meet not only the requirements but also the individual needs of the various stakeholders, he explained.
“These adjustments and new constructions need to accommodate the needs of today, but also the needs of the future. Having appropriate facilities will contribute towards creating a safe and conducive learning environment for our children,” he said.
“Credit needs to be given to the steering committee members from the various ministries who support this new vision which has been prepared by our education policy advisor Rosalyn Johnson and Planning Bureau team members Bobby Zagers and Evita Pronk,” said Zagers.