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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024


Three public schools in the St. Thomas-St. John District will not be ready for Monday's scheduled opening, including Charlotte Amalie High School.
The announcement came from the Education Department on Wednesday when it identified CAHS, Lockhart Elementary School and the newly reconstructed Peace Corps Elementary School as the three facilities not ready to accept students and staff for orientation, which was scheduled for Thursday.
According to Education Department spokeswoman June Archibald, ongoing federally funded earthquake mitigation work continues on both CAHS and St. Croix Central High School.
"We are not at a stage when we can have staff, faculty and students on the campus. It is unsafe and unsanitary," she said. Archibald noted that the work now under way must be completed by Sept. 30 or face the possibility that the territorial government would have to refund FEMA for payment on work already completed.
The construction means that CAHS staff will report a day later, beginning with a session at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. "We wanted to alert the faculty and staff that they do not report to CAHS on Thursday but to the Eudora Kean campus on Friday," Archibald said.
Lockhart School reportedly is still under construction and will be a brand-new facility. Peace Corps is said to be ready physically after extensive construction, but stocking the buildings with furniture and supplies reportedly will require more time. Still, faculty and staff of the two schools are being asked to report to their cafeterias for meetings at 1 p.m. Friday.
Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole visited some of the school campuses in the St. Thomas-St. John District Wednesday and said he was disappointed to see that some will not be ready for the already once-delayed opening date. He said he is especially concerned about the future of students about to begin their final year at CAHS.
"Parents are calling my office concerned about whether their sons and daughters who are in their senior year will qualify next June to graduate and enter college," Cole noted.
Cole said Wednesday the Education commissioner will have to spell out the plan for making up the many days being missed, given the growing concern over whether there will be enough time left in the school year.
"Teachers have said they are ready but the schools and classrooms are not," Cole said, adding he has written the chairman of the Education Committee, Sen. Norman Jn-Baptiste, urging him to hold a hearing on the status of public schools.
"We need to bring in Commissioner Ruby Simmonds and let her tell us what is happening and when schools will be ready," he said.
Cole noted that proposed makeup calendars have not always agreed with the teachers' contract, or the plans of individual teachers.
"History has shown that over the years teachers have been resistant to work on holidays or even to lengthen the school day. We are going to hammer out these issues," Cole said.
So far, there has been no word on when all schools will be open, only that the three identified will be delayed further.

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