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Never mind the official denials, PM confirms Government considering removing CCSS

Image of Castries Comprehensive School. (PHOTO: By PhotoMike)

PRIME Minister Allen Chastanet on Tuesday ended rumours of a possible relocation of the 44-year-old Castries Comprehensive Secondary School (CCSS) by his government. But in so doing, he might just also have also raised the stakes on another matter — speculation of possible ‘conflict of interest’ claims being levelled, should the school be removed.

The matter of the school’s probable removal from its present Choc location — to parts unknown — first surfaced in the ‘One Caribbean’ newspaper, which The VOICE sought clarification about from the government.

Image of Castries Comprehensive School. (PHOTO: By PhotoMike)
The Prime Minister’s Office last week denied earlier reports that the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School was up for sale. But earlier this week the PM confirmed that government is certainly considering removing the school from its present location. (PHOTO: PhotoMike)

But the report was quickly shot down by government operatives as a non-news item. The Prime Minister’s Senior Communications Officer Nicole McDonald categorically denied that the school may be sold to private interests for hotel construction.

“The Government of Saint Lucia has no current plans to do anything with the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School. At this time, I can tell you there has been no policy decision in any direction about doing anything with the Castries Comprehensive School,” McDonald told The VOICE last week.

However, just before entering parliament building on Tuesday (this week) for a meeting of the House of Assembly, Chastanet told reporters that his government is in fact considering a possible relocation of the school, which was delivered in 1974 as a gift to the people of Saint Lucia by the Canadian Government.

“There is an option of possibly moving the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, but no decision has been made,” Chastanet said, noting that it would be irresponsible on the part of his government “if we do not give it due consideration.”

He said that the Minister for Education will be leading the analysis on whether to relocate the school, with the District Representative in parliament (Castries North MP Stephenson King) having a considerable amount of say “as to what we are going to do.”

“Fact is, it is on beach property land, the site has problems with traffic and safety for the students,” he said, hinting at possible reasons for government’s consideration for relocating the school.

But the prime minister, by his responses to the school’s relocation, may have unintentionally raised certain questions about the land the school is sitting on and government considering the school’s relocation at this time.

It has been proven that his father and father-in-law own lands bordering that the school sits on.

“Whether my father or father-in-law own land never came into any consideration. They have owned those lands from long ago. This has nothing to do with it,” Chastanet said.

It seems that the cost associated with carrying out repairs to the school is what prompted government to take another look at the CCSS and consider moving it from its present location, which would mean constructing a new building.

The prime minister said that government would have to spend in excess of $13 million in repairs to the school, adding that it is in bad shape.

“If you have to build a new school — knowing what you know today — would you build it in that location? And so, that’s the evaluation that government is undertaking,” Chastanet said.

The One Caribbean report – in an editorial by Editor D. St. Clair DaBreo – claimed the editor (DaBreo) had irrefutable reports from reliable sources that the government was in talks with three un-named persons regarding construction of a hotel to replace the school.

Neither the Prime Minister, nor his Senior Communications Officer have addressed the claim that the government has been discussing a sale of the gift school.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

9 Comments

  1. Can we perhaps rebuild in the current location?

    New Roof…new furniture and charge children for damaging property.

    Relocate students from form 1.2 and 3 at the stadium subsidize school fares start school at 9….form 4s and 5s may be just maybe accommodated at gvs or at another grand location…if sourcing teachers is a problem hey let’s put teachers with masters sitting at secondary schools in those positions. problem solved.

  2. I know our politicians have been corrupt for quite some time now. But this takes the cake.
    Now they arnt just giving away the land we live on, they are throwing away the education of our people for a few more dollars.
    Why are we still touting party lines when the only thing that changes is how much we are robbed, the name of the people performing the robbery and the names of the hypocrites decrying their lack of opportunity to do the same.
    St Lucia is in a sorry state not because of any lack of morals or prayer. But because of our Goverment’s determination to line their pockets at to the detriment of the country.
    A 15 million dollar bills doesn’t appear overnight or even a school year. It only reached their due to the persistent neglect of our schools.
    It would be nice if our government focused on education, infrastructure, health services, agriculture, workers rights, really any number of DEEPLY important subjects half as hard as it did on increasing the number of hotels.
    The tourism industry is globaly over saturated and highly unstable. The bitter irony is that this tunnel vision has led to the very same industry slowing down BECAUSE infrastructure has not been shored up. Because they took no steps to see that Localy owned business flourished along side international.
    Now the nation’s largest industry is one that has notoriously low wages and hours which are not conducive to raising and maintaining the well being of a family.

  3. Whose idea was it in the first place to locate a School so close to a beach? that in itself was dumb.
    There have been a lack of proper Zoning Bylaws in St.Lucia. You should not have a Printery bang in
    the center of the city, after relocation use the building for offices. Because of the dismal state of the
    Court House and the carnival atmosphere during court proceedings in the heart of the city, I did
    suggest many years ago that the Law Courts should be moved to its proposed location. So someone
    might have had the same idea.For many years we have witnessed the frequent senseless vehicular
    accidents on that strip of the highway and it has become dangerous for students, nonetheless times
    have changed and the present location of this school is obsolete and should be moved forthwith.Cut all
    the politics, a dollar here a dollar there means nothing in a day like today. Think of the future of your
    kids in a safe and healthy environment – cut out the ‘theory of conspiracy’ – it is already a very competitive
    world we live in and it is getting worse day by day, we need smarter and smarter kids, take grip of what
    is offered here, not who owns this or that, look to the future of your country be smart and cut out the politics.

  4. The issue of present location of the CCSS vis-a-vis the highway is not a recent one. Several teachers i recall years ago complained about the noise and pollution from the highway, albeit great location from standpoint of access. A few teachers even fell sick with cancer, at least 2 teachers died in their prime.
    Due to limited flat land in Castries we can all understand the selection of this site–a secondary school calls for fair amount of flat land for a playground at least. However the minimum setback for a school from a highway is 200 feet!

    The age of this school building is relatively recent if we compare with St Mary’s College main block, the old historic buildings at SALCC, etc. The main problem structurally at CCSS has been the flat roof and some cracks in columns.

  5. The issue of present location of the CCSS vis-a-vis the highway is not a recent one. Several teachers i recall years ago complained about the noise and pollution from the highway, albeit great location from standpoint of access. A few teachers even fell sick with cancer, at least 2 teachers died in their prime.
    Due to limited flat land in Castries we can all understand the selection of this site–a secondary school calls for fair amount of flat land for a playground at least. However the minimum setback for a school from a highway is 200 feet!

    The age of this school building is relatively recent if we compare with St Mary’s College main block, the old historic buildings at SALCC, etc. The main problem structurally at CCSS has been the flat roof and some cracks in columns.

  6. I did attend the original St. Mary’s College in Castries before it was relocated to Vigie.
    The St. Joseph’s Convent, I understand have since moved elsewhere too. So it dose
    not really require a great deal of wisdom to fix what is required; but just a little vision.
    Why do some people oppose almost everything this administration proposes? it makes
    perfect sense to me, under these unsafe conditions with the traffic and an opportunity
    to start afresh, to rewire circuits to accommodate lots of computers, Wi-Fi and what else.
    It has always been said,”without a vision, the people perish” so don’t ever let that happen to us.

  7. If the school is going to remain in its present location vis-a-vis the highway perhaps some noise and pollution mitigating measures can be introduced. It would be wise to obtain decibel and pollution level figures from CEHI or other agency. It is good that the building is depressed a bit from the highway. A special noise abatement wall on highway side can help, as well as thick landscaping.

    It is good that the footbridge has been introduced.

  8. Just a word of advise after viewing the picture of the school shown above,
    wish our local Architects/Engineers would stop designing and building such
    structures with flat roofs. Such (concrete) flat roofs, unless designed and
    built by recognized personnel,do suffer great beatings due to long term direct
    exposure from the Sun. Such flat roofs should be provided with sufficient slope
    and with a coating of asphalt, sprinkled with some 1/4 inch gravel.Then you’re good.

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