The Ministry of Education plans to temporarily phase out the Central High School, while undertaking to construct a new building to house the institution in the future.
This was confirmed by the ministry’s Public Relations Officer Brushell Blackman, who yesterday indicated that the remaining students, who are currently enrolled in grades 9 through 11, along with their teachers, will be relocated to a larger school, located in Lodge. He assured that this arrangement would ensure that teaching will in no way be affected.
Blackman noted that the ministry had stopped enrolling students at the school for this reason, hence why only older students are in attendance.
“…There is a plan afoot to actually phase the school out and build a new Central High School.
I can’t confirm to you when that school will be built but that is the plan, to have a new school built with the same name…The only reason we have found ourselves in this position is because the owners of that property no longer want us there,” Blackman stated.
He related that while the Central High School is in a decrepit condition, offers had been made by the ministry to repair the building, but it was turned down by the property owners.
Blackman said that the plan is for the school to begin taking in students again once a new building is constructed.
Having pointed out that the issue at hand is that the school’s board as well as teachers and students have been kept in the dark about the ministry’s next steps, Blackman committed to having a meeting set up between the ministry and the other relevant stakeholders.
“If the board members need a dialogue with the ministry, we can facilitate that. I’ll undertake to have a discussion with those board members and see how we can move forward with this matter. Because I think, I mean, everybody has a right to protest but at the same time we have to find solutions to problems,” Blackman said.
On Wednesday, representatives of the Central High School’s Board, the Parent-Teachers Association and students held a protest against the Ministry of Education over reported plans to shut the school.
It was related that Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson had indicated at a meeting last June that the Central High School would either be phased out or transferred elsewhere.
It was also stated that meetings were subsequently held with the former and current Ministers of Education, the last meeting having been held in November, with promises of a follow-up meeting that would include the board and Hutson. This meeting never took place.