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John Gray High School update

12 October 2017, 8:00 AM
Politics & Government
radiocayman
The Ministry of Education is pleased to provide an update on the positive progress that has been made toward the completion of the new John Gray High School (JGHS) project.    A contract with KPMG was signed this month to undertake a business case that will aim to meet stakeholder needs while ensuring value for money.  The completion of the new John Gray High School is a priority that has been identified in the 2018 Strategic Policy statement for the Cayman Islands Government. 
Minister for Education, Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly shares her support for the project, "It is imperative that this project is completed and that the children of our country do not continue to operate in a state of flux. As a country, we must ensure that the same types of world-class facilities that are extended to those that visit our islands are made available to our own children. When children feel pride for where they attend school, an increase of over-all well-being is achieved."
As per the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility, this major project is following a rigorous process to ensure Government is utilising its funds and resources effectively. Senior Project Manager from Public Works Major Projects Office and the Ministry of Education, Jonathan Matthews provides an explanation of the process, "This project is managed in accordance with the Major Projects Office process for large capital projects. This process has seven distinct stages and is designed to ensure projects are only taken forward at each stage if they improve Government services, meet the needs of the stakeholders, and represent value for money, while maintaining affordability. The Ministry of Education worked with JGHS and the Department of Education Services (DES), throughout 2016, to create a Strategic Outline Case (SOC); this being Stage1in the process. The stakeholder engagement started at the outset of SOC and was paramount in developing the design criteria that will produce the optimum school design for JGHS. All possible options for completing JGHS were considered in the SOC, with the 'Key Stakeholders' evaluating this long-list to reduce it to a short-list of recommended project options. Cabinet approved these recommendations in February 2017 and provided the Ministry of Education with the authority to proceed to Stage 2, the Outline Business Case (OBC)."
After an extensive procurement process, KPMG has been appointed and will be developing and writing the OBC. This stage involves extensive stakeholder engagement to ensure that the wants and needs of the users of the educational facilities are understood. Mr. Matthews further explains that research from high performing jurisdictions will be  carried out to identify and adopt best practices for Cayman. . "The design for each of the shortlisted project options is sufficiently developed to enable the 'whole life cycle cost' to be calculated and compared -- this is not just the cost to build the new educational facilities, but also the cost to operate them over the lifetime of the buildings. The options are compared as part of this OBC to determine the preferred and recommended project option. It is anticipated that the OBC will be complete and issued for approval in February 2018." 
Stage 3 in the process is to 'Develop the Preferred Option' (DPO). This stage includes developing the concept design to obtain Planning and BCU approval and also the procurement of the contractors who will be responsible for the construction; this is an involved stage and will take at least one year to complete. 
Prior to the execution of the contract, Stage 4 the Final Business Case (FBC) will be written -- this will collate all of the work that has been undertaken in the OBC and DPO, check that the project is still meeting the requirements of the stakeholders, that it represents value for money and is affordable to Government. With the approval of this FBC by Cabinet, construction (Stage 5) can commence. It is anticipated that construction of the new JGHS (Phase 3) will commence in 2019.
Building on the success of the gymnasium, Principal of JGHS, Jon Clark, shares his enthusiasm for the project's continued progress, "The students have already made full use of the gym by having held exams and graduation there last year and PE and whole school assemblies this year. The students, staff, and parents will be engaged in the entire process to ensure it meets their needs and provides them with a sense of ownership. This begins this week with intensive workshops with each of the stakeholder groups."
Chief Officer for Education, Christen Suckoo, indicates that the plans will not only benefit JGHS but also enhance higher learning, "In Phase 4 of the project, the old George Hicks Site will be redeveloped for CIFEC and UCCI. This will allow for an increase in vocational qualifications for our students which meets the CIG's objective of 'developing and implementing a new approach to technical and vocational education and training.' Additionally, the Department of Education Services would also relocate to this site, therefore providing a more suitable and cohesive location."
Sheenah Hislop, Partner of KPMG states, "Our vision for this project is to work together with the Ministry to achieve an affordable and value-for-money solution to deliver a Centre of Excellence for education that shapes the thinking of current and future generations of students in the Cayman Islands. We will deliver a transparent business case to facilitate a way for the Government of our Islands to take this project forward."
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