Education officials clarify scope of work following FEMA's $385M commitment

Education officials clarify scope of work following FEMA’s $385M commitment

CHRISTIANSTED — The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a nearly $385 million commitment to replace four U.S. Virgin Islands elementary schools and repair a lunch warehouse on St. Thomas.

The scope of work described in a FEMA press release this week noted the prudent replacement of seven of 11 buildings at the Lew Muckle Elementary School and the prudent replacement of 12 structures at Eulalie Rivera, including bleachers, athletic field bathrooms and classrooms.

Funds have also been obligated to repair the grounds and replace 10 buildings at Juanita Gardine Elementary School, including classrooms, offices, the auditorium and an auxiliary building.

Funds were also made available for the replacement of three buildings and fencing at the Leonard Dober Elementary School on St. Thomas as well as a 7,000 square foot lunch warehouse.

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FEMA’s U.S. Virgin Islands Recovery Office Director Kristen Hodge said in the statement that the agency’s commitment to providing Virgin Islands students with safe facilities remains strong.

“FEMA’s resolve to work with our partners in the USVI to repair and rebuild facilities and infrastructure damaged by Irma and Maria remains a high priority for team members who live here in the territory as well as those in leadership roles at the regional and national levels,” she stated.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, the V.I. Education Department said the grant awards signify “a pivotal moment for education in the Virgin Islands” but clarified that the flexibility afforded to the department through the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act allows for a wide range of uses beyond construction, including land acquisition, project management, demolition and design.

According to the Education Department, “the Lew Muckle School and PreK-6 School, as well as the Eulalie Rivera PreK-8 School, will be merged into the modernized and expanded Alfredo Andrews and Alexander Henderson Schools. Concurrently, the decision has been made to shutter Leonard Dober Elementary School, which is currently not utilized for instructional purposes.”