The Maria Holder Trust has earmarked about $12 million to complete six nursery schools in various parts of the country.
With the organisation ready to start the first one in Gall Hill #2, Christ Church soon, trustee Michael Russell said though there was a budget for each school, they were not just going to limit the construction but consider however much it cost to complete the project satisfactorily.
“We have budgeted for each school around $2 million, but obviously we haven’t got down to, this is why the professional team has been put together to come up with some innovative designs. We are going to be very careful about the kinds of materials that are going to be used and we then have to go through that process before we can even begin costing.
“But that’s the figure we are working with at the moment and if it is more then the Maria Holder Memorial Trust will spend more and if it’s less then we will do the same,” Russell noted.
Late this evening, officials from the Trust, along with Minister of Education Ronald Jones and MP for Christ Church West Central, Stephen Lashley, visited the intended site of the first school, which was once home to Jones Junior School.
Russell said the intention had to be to start and complete the first school before moving on to the next, but re-examining the project they were now certain they could start the first three, at Gall Hill, Christ Church; Oldbury, St. Philip and Government Hill, St. Michael, before moving on to the next three.
“The more we thought about it, certainly the funding is there to do more than one and we will work on three right now. I think that is as many as we can handle at the moment but it will be three.”
The first one, on 61,500 square feet, should be completed in 18 months, and Russell said they already had a team comprising a project manager, architects and two quantity surveyors and would appoint the other professionals as they moved forward.
Jones said though that the Trust was in the process of acquiring the spot, and cart√ blanche with the design and awarding of the construction contract.
Chances are high that the Trust will demolish the current structure and start from scratch on the site, with what Jones termed a “turn-key solution”, where the entire project will be completed before Government receives the keys officially to the finished schools.
“Just like the Maria Holder School at Sharon, this too will be a green school as all the other schools will be green schools, incorporating all of those sustainable concepts that we are talking about. And Christopher [Holder, founder] is quite strong in stressing the whole idea of green solutions, let’s protect the earth, let’s protect where we live.
“So in our nursery schools, you will find the green concept being incorporated into that photovoltaics, harvesting of water and the reuse on the playing fields etc, fully incorporated into these schools,” said the minister.
Jones said along with the first three sites, there were also going to be schools built by the Trust at Holders Hill and St. Alban’s, both in St. James, and Sayers Court, Christ Church.
He said they were hoping with a five-year timeline to have all the schools completed.
The school at Gall Hill will accommodate 120 to 150 students, said Jones, as the MP for the area noted it would serve Gall Hill and several surrounding district.
Lashley said it was one of the things they had been looking forward to, and there was tremendous demand for such schooling in the constituency. (LB)