Gov. John deJongh Jr. is seeking a $4.5 million U.S. Interior Department grant to fix up schools and libraries in 2016, after he is out of office, according to Government House.
DeJongh submitted the Capital Improvement Project Grant or Covenant Grant application to Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Esther Kia’aina on Tuesday for "projects to enhance literacy and education through upgrading and renovating the territory’s public schools and other educational structures" and for "capital upgrades to specific public libraries," according to a statement from Government House.
The governor’s submittal letter says grant resources will be concentrated on capital improvement projects necessary to protect public health and safety.
"My administration has identified certain projects that will continue the process of bringing public schools up to code, and others that will help preserve our collections of important public documents," deJongh said in the statement. "Each project is designed to make facilities safer for students, faculty and staff, parents, and the general population of the Virgin Islands," he said.
If approved, most of the grant – $3.5 million – would go to the Education Department to fix health and safety concerns in schools. That money would exclusively be used for fire alarm systems; upgrades to fire protection systems; structural repairs; and mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades. DeJongh said the projects are needed for the "health, safety and productivity of our students."
The remaining $1 million would go to "structural renovations and infrastructure and technology upgrades" at five libraries. These are the Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Christiansted; the Athalie McFarlane Petersen Library in Frederiksted; the Florence Williams Library in Christiansted; the Enid M. Baa Public Library and Archives in Charlotte Amalie; and the Elaine Sprauve Public Library in Cruz Bay.