Statement
29 June 2018 - 5:26pm

MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND CULTURE HONOURABLE MYRON V. WALWYN’S ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS POSED BY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION AND MEMBER FOR THE FIRST DISTRICT
DURING THE
SEVENTH SITTING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE THIRD HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

Question 1

Madam Speaker, could the Minister for Education and Culture please inform this Honourable House, post Hurricane Irma, what schools were cleaned up from the monies his Ministry received from the emergency response loan that government received from CDB?

  1. What was the total amount received by his Ministry from the said CDB loan?

ii)         How much of what was received was spent by his Ministry and state the unspent balance?

Answer 1

Madam Speaker, no schools were cleaned from the Emergency Response Loan that the Government received from CDB as most clean-ups were done prior to receiving the Funds.  Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Education and Culture’s focus was on getting public schools in the Territory ready for students in the fastest time frame possible, and certainly by the established deadlines of 5th October and 6th November, 2017 for the re-opening of the schools. Please note that the loan funding was made available to the ministry on the JD Edwards accounting system on 22nd December, 2017. This date was long after the re-opening of public schools.  A major portion of the clean-up efforts at the public schools deemed usable was conducted by volunteer groups, both local and foreign.  All bills relating to clean up efforts at any schools were paid directly from School Rehabilitation – Head 3250100 (various subheads) and School Maintenance – Head 25434004.

Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Education was expected to receive a total of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($750,000) from the CDB loan. The loans, based on our understanding were $750,000 dollars, which was allocated to three (3) ministries including the Ministry of Education. The money, from my understanding, was specifically for debris clean-up purposes following the hurricane. Because of the nature of damages to schools, it was difficult for us to access these funds for the purposes of school repairs. The ministry was therefore not able to use those funds for school repairs following the hurricanes. A request was made by the Ministry of Education — at the earliest opportunity — to have the loan repurposed so that it can be used to fix our schools, particularly since our cleanup exercises were already concluded and repairs to damaged schools was the task at hand. We were given the assurance that the repurposing of the portion of the loan that was earmarked for the Ministry of Education would be done. 

Madam Speaker, a total of one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five dollars and seventy-seven cents ($1,825.77) was spent by the Ministry of Education. This sum was for payments for gasoline for prison officers’ personal vehicles that Treasury advised should be taken from head 25434001 and subhead 528661 - Hurricane Irma and Maria Cleanup. This was the head and subhead under which the money allocated from the loan i.e. the $750,000 dollars from the CDB loan was placed. We are therefore of the view that the payment for gasoline fell within the remit of the cleanup exercise, unlike repairs to schools. The unspent balance is seven hundred and forty-eight thousand one hundred and seventy-four dollars and twenty-three cents ($748,174.23)

Question 2

Madam Speaker, could the Minister for Education and Culture please inform this Honourable House, post Hurricane Irma, what date in December 2017 were the contracts signed to complete the temporary works and purchasing of materials in order to restore the Leonora Delville Primary School building so that it can be used to house the principal, staff, teachers and students once again?

  1. Why were the same contracts signed again in 2018?
  1. State the amount of each contract/purchase order and the intended description of works for each for the contracts signed in 2017 and 2018?

 iii) State the process used to select each contractor or supplier for contracts signed in 2017 and 2018?

iv) State the budgetary Head and Subhead for which the contracts/purchase orders were charged both in 2017 and 2018?

v)   For (iv) please state the balance of the subhead before the contracts/purchase orders were committed and the balance after the contracts/purchase orders were committed both in 2017 and 2018?

vi)  State if, upon signing the contracts, there was sufficient funds in the subhead to accommodate the contracts both in 2017 and 2018, and in each case, if not then why were the contracts signed?

vii)       Inform this Honourable House when the works at Leonora Delville school building will be completed?

Answer 2

Madam Speaker, Petty Contracts were prepared and signed the week of 18th December on the assurance by the Ministry of Finance that the loan would have been repurposed to address the major issue that was affecting the ministry, which was repairs to schools. We were also given the assurance that the Leonora Delville Primary School issue was a top priority, and so, the availability of funding was never an issue. The issue was having the loan facility repurposed, failing which the monies would be made available from local funding, which it eventually came from to start the repairs at the school. The monies were not approved by the end of 2017 so the contracts signed at that time had to be re-done and executed again in 2018.

           Madam Speaker, the contracts were signed a second time in 2018 because they were not processed in 2017. 

  1. Madam Speaker, the information regarding works to be carried out by various contractors in the form of Petty Contracts and the purchase order information for the purchase of material for the Leonora Delville Primary School in both 2017 and 2018 is available in table format as per the members’ request.
  2. Madam Speaker, the process used to select contractors or suppliers for both 2017 and 2018 comes from a knowledge base of qualified persons who have completed work with the Ministry of Education and Culture overtime and particularly from the district in which the work is being done. We also ensured that the persons to whom work is given that they are duly qualified to perform the work and that all the requirements to enter into a contractual arrangement with the Government of the Virgin Islands are satisfied. 
  3. Madam Speaker, in 2017 no purchase orders for the Petty Contracts relating to the repair work at the Leonora Delville Primary School were prepared by the Ministry of Education and Culture for processing of payments. Therefore there are no charges made against any Head and Subhead for 2017. 

Madam Speaker, in 2018 Head 3250100 – School Rehabilitation was charged for the purchase orders for the Petty Contracts relating to the repair work at the Leonora Delville Primary School.

  1. Madam Speaker, there was no balance in the Head 3250100 – School Rehabilitation but approval was given by Ministry of Finance to spend up to a maximum of one hundred and fifty thousand ($150,000.00) to commence work on the Leonora Delville Primary School project until the 2018 budget was posted to the Head. 
  1. Madam Speaker, there was no funding in the Head 3250100 – School Rehabilitation but approval was given by Ministry of Finance to spend a maximum of one hundred and fifty thousand ($150,000.00) to commence work on the Leonora Delville Primary School project until the 2018 budget was posted to the Head. 

Madam Speaker, Petty Contracts were prepared and signed in 2017 on the assurance by the Ministry of Finance that the loan would have been repurposed to address the major issue that was affecting the ministry, as it relates to public schools. As stated before, the availability of funding was never in question. The monies were not approved by the end of 2017 so the contracts signed at that time were re-done and executed in 2018.  As the member would appreciate, contractors were in very short supply following the hurricanes. Leonora Delville Primary School was the only school that could be fixed in time to accommodate the students on the western end of the island. We wanted to give contractors time to get their workers in order, get their good standing certificates and other pre-requisites satisfied so that the work could begin as soon as they received their mobilisation cheque. The steps were considered to be time-saving measures in order to meet the year end cut off for processing of payments by the Treasury Department and to ensure that the works would be completed in an effort to relocate the students back to the Leonora Delville Primary School campus as soon as possible. 

  1. Madam Speaker, for information purposes, demolition work at the Leonora Delville Primary School campus commenced on Saturday 21st April, 2018 and it was the Ministry of Education and Culture’s intention to have this project completed by June 30th, 2018. 

While it was the Ministry’s intention to have the school completed by the end of June, there has been a number of delays given to the fact that the Territory is still facing major delays in acquiring material and shipment of construction material, especially windows and doors that were purchased from overseas.  Be that as it may, and regardless of numerous challenges and delays, the Ministry of Education and Culture is determined to have the school operational for the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year.    

Question 3

Madam Speaker, could the Minister for Education and Culture please inform this Honourable House the cost of removing the public library from its former location and what is the amount of the annual rental payments for the new location of the public library?

  1. What is the estimated cost of fitting out the new premises for usage by the public library?
  1. Please state how much money has been expended to date?

Answer 3

Madam Speaker, the cost of relocating the Road Town Public Library was covered from the Budgets of the Library Services Department and the Ministry of Education and Culture.  The Ministry paid for the moving company to transport the boxes, equipment, furniture and shelves, as well as, for the removal of the partitions, ceilings and floor tiles from the Malone building. 

Costs incurred by the Library Services Department are as follows:

Removing the air conditioning system                                                    $4,485.00

Dismantle, transport and reassemble photocopier machine                                200.00

Dismantle and remove security system and equipment                                         300.00

Dismantle circulation desk                                                                               400.00

TOTAL                                                                                                          $5,385.00

Costs incurred by the Ministry of Education and Culture are as follows:

Alford Brewley - Demolition works (Section A) - Work Order No 18   $8,000.00

Sendrick Smith - Demolition works (Section B) - Work Order No 19  $8,000.00

Micheal Stevens - Demolition works (Section C) - Work Order No 20           $8,000.00

TOTAL                                                                                                        $24,000.00

Madam Speaker, the amount of the annual rent payments for the new location of the public library is three hundred and seventy-nine thousand two hundred dollars ($379,200.00) or thirty-one thousand six hundred dollars ($31,600.00) monthly.

  1. Madam Speaker, the estimated cost was $519,908.37. The information regarding works to be carried out by various contractors in the form of Petty Contracts for the estimated cost of fitting out the new premises for usage by the public library at the old Clarence Thomas Limited (CTL) building is available in table format as per the members’ request.
  2. Madam Speaker, the amount of money expended to date for the fitting out of the new premises for usage by the public library at the old Clarence Thomas Limited (CTL) building is zero dollars ($0.00).  Madam Speaker information is available in the table as seen in the previous answer. 

Question 4

Madam Speaker, could the Minister for Education and Culture please inform this Honourable House of the date on which the Road Town public library was closed, the length of time it had been closed and the schedule date for the reopening of the public library?

Answer 4

Madam Speaker, the Road Town Public Library was officially closed on 16th May 2016.

Madam Speaker, the Road Town Public Library has been closed for a period of two (2) years and one (1) month.

Madam Speaker, the scheduled date for reopening of the Road Town Public Library is not available at this time.  The contracts were signed and sent to Treasury for processing of first payment on August 31st, 2017 but no payments were processed because of the hurricanes. 

With the catastrophic hurricanes in September 2018 devastating the largest secondary school in the Territory, a decision was made to use the proposed library space at the old Clarence Thomas Limited (CTL) building located in Pasea Estate for housing the Elmore Stoutt High School on a shift system. Madam Speaker, this space will continue to house the Elmore Stoutt High School until the rebuilding of the old campus is completed.  

Question 5

Madam Speaker, could the Minister for Education and Culture please inform this Honourable House of the location and condition of the books and resources of the Road Town public library and the state how they are being stored and protected?

Answer 5

Madam Speaker, the books and resources of the Road Town Public Library are stored at the Elmore Stoutt High School campus in building labeled Block F.  They are stored in four (4) rooms, one room on the ground floor, and three (3) rooms on the second floor. I have been informed that that while there was some damage during moving to a few books, the books are in good condition except for dust. The rooms where they are being stored have been fumigated to ensure rodents are kept out.

Question 6

Madam Speaker, could the Minister for Education and Culture please inform this Honourable House whether or not it is in the best interest of the Territory to have the Road Town Public Library closed?

Answer 6

Madam Speaker, the Road Town Public Library serves a unique role in the Territory. The library houses, preserves and provides access to the Territory’s invaluable, unique historical and cultural documents which are used by members of the Virgin Islands community.  Such documents are not available via the Internet, and form the nucleus of the National Library’s collection. The library provides a place where educational, cultural and historical information published locally is deposited and made available in hard copy, or sometimes in digital format for users.  IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto 1994, “encourages national and local government to support and actively engage in the development of public libraries”. 

Madam Speaker, given the above mentioned, and the key role the library has in preserving the heritage and culture of the Territory for future generations, I am certain that no one will agree that it is in the best interest to have the Road Town library closed.  While the Ministry of Education and Culture understands the significance of having library services re-established in the Road Town area, it is not without doubt that a suitable facility to house such seems impossible at this current time.  Madam Speaker, the Chief Librarian and her staff are working diligently to provide the majority of services from the East End Library branch.  Arrangements were also made for the public to have access to the library at the Community College. Clients are encouraged to utilize the services offered and to note that requests can also be made by telephone. 

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