Category: Education, Youth & Recreation

Committee on Youth, Sports, Parks and Recreation Receives Update on Various Items

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From the Office of Senator Javan E. James, Sr.

St. Croix, USVI–Members of the Committee on Youth, Sports, Parks and Recreation, chaired by Senator Javan E. James, Sr. met on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 in the Capitol Building on St. Thomas to receive an update status from several Government and non-government agencies.

The committee first heard from, Labor Commissioner nominee, Gary Molloy along with his team, who gave an overview of the Labor Youth Program, by focusing specifically on plans for the Youth and Summer Programs. The committee learned that there are approximately 598 summer jobs for the youth throughout the Territory.

Having a background in education, Commissioner Nominee Molloy hopes to collaborate with Department of Education by visiting schools and informing students of the programs that are offered. Commissioner Nominee Molloy further indicated that statically service positions like Administration, Accounting, and IT positions are the jobs that are much needed to be filled along with hospitality and carpentry areas.

The Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation Acting Commissioner Calvert White, focused on the recovery efforts due to the destruction sustained during the 2017 storms. White said that there is a need for reconstruction which may probably exceed $20,000,000.00. The Acting Commissioner also informed the committee that damages were extended to all islands and it is the department’s intent to do a thorough upgrade territory wide.

VIGL Operations Manager, Jason Williams discussed the Agreement between the VIGL and the Government of the Virgin Islands regarding their obligation to commit $27 million for the design and reconstruction of both race tracks; Williams further indicated in his testimony that he received a permit in December 2018 for the St. Thomas racetrack and a few others earlier this month.

St. Croix Horsemen Association told committee members about their challenges that they are faced with regarding their horses having no running surface that is suitable for the horses to exercise.

St. Thomas/St. John Horsemen Association updated the committee on the improvements to the running surface and it is their hope that they would have approval for the temporary racing schedule for 2019.

The Commission for Horse Racing were also invited but was unable to attend; however, another hearing will be set in April 2019 during which the committee will seek further clarity on certain issues surrounding the sport of horse racing.

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COMMITTEE UPDATED ON THE STATUS OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN LIEU OF SY 2018-2019

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St. Thomas – The Committee of Education, Youth, and Recreation, chaired by Sen. Jean Forde, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Tuesday, to receive testimony from officials of the V.I. Department of Education (VIDE), on the status of public schools in preparation for School Year 2018-2019.

“We know that the beginning of the school year is rapidly approaching. Therefore, we want enlightenment on the conditions of the schools and to find solutions if necessary,” said Sen. Forde.

Sharon McCollum, Ph.D., Commissioner of VIDE shared the update. “We established a very aggressive schedule in our efforts to meet SY 2018-2019 opening deadline. To date, FEMA project worksheets totaling $117,941,204 for the Temporary Facilities Project is obligated.”

Thus far, negotiations for temporary and permanent repairs to the schools are ongoing. Commissioner McCollum stated that there are nine schools in the St. Thomas-St. John District that will have temporary repairs in preparation for full-session for the SY 2018-2019. On St. Croix District, temporary maintenance began in seven schools. Additionally, VIDE received $35,000,00 from insurance proceeds allocated by Governor Mapp through the Department of Property and Procurement to fund temporary repairs and temporary facility projects in conjunction with project worksheets approved by FEMA.

Furthermore, Public Schools were combined for a smooth transition from split-session to a full-session. On the St. Thomas-St. John District: a percentage of Glady’s Abraham students and Lockhart Elementary, a portion of Glady’s Abraham students and Ulla F. Muller Elementary School, a percentage of E. Benjamin Oliver students and Joseph Gomez Elementary School students and a percentage of E. Benjamin Oliver students with Yvonne Milliner-Bowsky Elementary School. On the St. Croix District Elena Christian and John Woodson Junior High Schools are combined. Although consolidation was necessary for those schools, there will be thirteen public schools receiving modular and sprung units in preparation for the full session for SY 2018-2019.

However, education leaders Ruby Simmonds Esannason, Carmen Howell, and Glenn Davis expressed opposition to the establishment of 56 modular classrooms on the athletic field and the tennis court at Charlotte Amalie High School stating that athletic programs are in jeopardy.

“This calculated scheme undermines the future of the young athletes,” said Davis. Howell stated that it threatens the critical standard for continued accreditation for the Health and Safety of students because one of the purposes of the field is to function as a viable evacuation site that allows ongoing drills in anticipation of emergencies. “The students will be placed in danger every time a heavy rain causes flooding on the fields,” added Esannason.

Sen. Forde stated that these are legitimate concerns. “However, authorities expressed that it is simply too late. If modular units are relocated, then in the commencement of the upcoming school year classrooms will not be ready on time, and split sessions will continue. The goal is to return students to full-session while repairing permanent school structures.”

Sen. Tregenza Roach said, “These concerns are from people with vast experience in the Education. I hope that the issues raised will not be an even bigger problem later.”

Separately, senators voted to hold in committee: Bill No. 32-0014-An Act amending Title 17 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 9, section 86 relating to school attendance, absenteeism, and parental responsibility; and Bill No. 32-0203-An Act amending Title 17, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 3 relating to the permanent closure of public schools.

Senators present are Jean Forde, Kurt Vialet, Novelle Francis, Kurt Vialet, Tregenza Roach, Neville James, and Janelle Sarauw. PHOTOS: http://www.legvi.org/committeemeetings/Media/                            ###

COMMITTEE UPDATED ON THE STATUS OF EDUCATION POST-HURRICANES

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St. Thomas – The Committee of Education, Youth, and Recreation, chaired by Sen. Jean Forde, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Tuesday, to receive testimony from education officials, on the status of the educational programs and facilities post-Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. However, the written testimony submitted by the Commissioner of the Department of Education Sharon McCollum stated that Governor Kenneth Mapp gave a directive preventing education leaders from attending the meeting today.

“We have done our best to bring all of the stakeholders to this committee meeting. We learned yesterday that officials from the Department of Education (DOE) will not be available until April 13th as instructed by the Governor,” said Sen. Forde. “I cannot see the justification for canceling today. This was a follow-up of from the school tours previously conducted in both districts.”

Although officials from the Department of Education were absent, leaders from the American Federation of Teachers were present to share an update.

President of the St. Thomas-St. John Federation of Teachers (AFT) Carol Callwood stated that some classrooms have roof damage; air condition units need repairs and there are continued reports of mold and asbestos. “The cost and time needed to properly clean and repair the schools and activity centers before classes resume for the 2018-2019 school year have not been identified or at least have not been shared with us,” said President Callwood.

Similarly, Rosa Soto-Thomas, President of the St. Croix Federation of Teachers said, “Currently, in the St. Croix District, we continue to house thirteen schools in five buildings. Members who work during the afternoon sessions have reported that they have overstayed their welcome at assigned schools and are eager to return to their home school or temporary modular units.” Additional woes include extending the Collective Bargaining Agreement daily with the Government of the Virgin Islands which expired on August 31, 2015, to-date teacher’s salaries are based on the 2010-2011 pay scale and teachers are denied combined sick, personal and annual leaves.

“In previous meetings, the Commissioner stated that schools will be ready for the 2018-2019 school year. Where did you get the information from that schools will not be ready,” asked Sen. Novelle Francis.  In response, Carver Farrow, President of STT-STJ of EAA Union said, “I want to believe that all efforts are made by DOE to prepare for the upcoming school year. However, the best scenario is to order, set-up and make ready the modular structures by September 2018 and I hardly believe this will happen in the next five months.” Sen. Myron Jackson said, “We have to come to grips with long-term planning for our schools.”

Sen. Forde stated that the Education System in the Virgin Islands is not in a happy place. “Months after the storms, modular units should already be in place. On St. John, the modular units could be placed in the ballfield. On St. Thomas, the modular units could fill the grounds at the University of the Virgin Islands. Classrooms still aren’t ready for the 2018-2019 school year. Teachers are still lacking necessary resources. How long will this continue? We have concerns,” said Sen. Forde.

Senators present are Jean Forde, Novelle Francis, Kurt Vialet, Tregenza Roach, Neville James, Myron Jackson and Janelle Sarauw. PHOTOS: http://www.legvi.org/committeemeetings/Media/ ###

COMMITTEE UPDATED ON THE STATUS OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS EDUCATION SYSTEM POST HURRICANE IRMA AND HURRICANE MARIA

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St. Thomas – The Committee of Education, Youth, and Recreation, chaired by Sen. Jean Forde, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Wednesday, to receive testimony from education officials, on the status of the schools and education system post-Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

 

“There is 2.5 million square foot of our public education system has suffered irreparable damage, some of which can be seen today and that will surface years later,” said Sharon McCollum, Ph.D., Commissioner of V.I. Department of Education (VIDOE). Currently, there are eight schools condemned territory-wide. There are two schools in St. Thomas-St. John District and six schools in the St. Croix District that were damaged extensively. The Curriculum Center and Procurement Warehouse also sustained similar fate.

 

“How was the assessment of the condemned schools conducted?” inquired Sen. Forde. Commissioner McCollum stated that the Army Corp of Engineers and VIDOE maintenance division and engineering team collaborated to conduct assessments.

 

As a result of the condemned schools, VIDOE are holding double sessions to ensure public school students are receiving an adequate education. Commissioner McCollum stated that on the St. Thomas-St. John District, Addelita Cancryn students, are on double sessions with Charlotte Amalie High School. Students at the Gladys Abraham Elementary School are using the Ulla F. Muller Elementary School. On the St. Croix District, the John H. Woodson Junior High School and Elena Christian Junior High School will continue the double session with Central High School.

 

“Will students still meet the requirement of 1080 school hours with the double sessions?” asked Sen. Positive Nelson. Commissioner McCollum said, “Adjustments made to our calendar will assist the Department in supporting our students in meeting 180 instructional days, not 1080 hours.”

 

Sen. Brian Smith asked, “What is the total number of students in both districts post-hurricanes?” Commissioner McCollum stated that there are 3,304 students in the St. Thomas-St. John District. Colleen Williams, Insular Superintendent for the St. Croix District, shared that there are approximately 2,000 enrolled students.

 

Collectively, senators inquired about an assessment for mold remediation in the schools. “The mobilization of my team will commence in the next 72 hours for mold assessment and remediation,” responded Nicole Bootman-Shepard, Disaster Recovery Expert for A.E. Com. Commissioner McCollum added that meanwhile school administrators and school nurses are documenting mole related incidents. All persons are encouraged to report rooms with mold and they are immediately relocated from the alleged infected room or area.

 

However, Carol Callwood, President of the St. Thomas-St. John Federation of Teachers believes that the schools are not ready to open. “I questioned the safety of the job sites with the presence of mold and the impact that it will have on the health and staff of our students.”

 

Committee Members present are senators Jean Forde, Novelle Francis, Kurt Vialet, Tregenza Roach, Brian Smith. Non-Committee senators are Dwayne DeGraff, Janelle Sarauw, Positive Nelson.

LAWMAKERS UPDATED ON THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM

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St. Thomas – The Committee on Education, Youth, Recreation chaired by Sen. Jean Forde, held a meeting on Wednesday, at the Capitol Building to receive testimony on the status of the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDOE) and the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation.

“There are a lot of concerns in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. There was tremendous structural damage sustained to some of the schools. Currently, there are split sessions, some teachers have resigned, and some students relocated to the mainland. Therefore, today we will learn about the status of Public Education System,” said Sen. Forde.

“The most significant challenge the Department is facing across the Territory is the scarcity of materials and A&E Contractors,” said Sharon McCollum, Commissioner of VIDOE. “Roof damage continues to allow moisture into schools facilitating the exacerbated growth of mold.”

Post-hurricanes 2.9 million square feet of the public instructional education system has suffered irreparable damage. Federal agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted assessments of all schools, and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEMA) is in the process of site evaluations. Thus far, the cost to repair damaged schools is approximately $1.2 billion. However, the final value is still undetermined.

“Did the department salvage valuables from the damaged schools?” inquired Sen. Forde. Commissioner McCollum stated that some materials were retrieved. However, other materials remained because of the possibility of cross-contamination. Insular Superintendent of VIDOE Dione Wells-Hendrington added, “The department is still in the process of removing equipment from shuttered schools. Materials are relocated to the auditorium for distribution to functioning schools.”

In the absence of some permanent school structures, the Department will use temporary facilities such as modular structures and sprung structures. The modular structures, scheduled to be installed in six months, will house temporary classrooms. The purpose of the sprung structures is to house support facilities such as administrative offices, curriculum centers, gymnasiums, auditoriums, kitchens, and cafeterias.

Sen. Janelle Sarauw requested clarification of the negotiation process between the VIDOE and FEMA as it pertains to the modular structures. In response, Territorial Director for Capital Projects and Facilities James Bernier said, “This process is ongoing. The Department is continuously submitting documents to FEMA upon request.” Commissioner McCollum added that this is a slow process because FEMA changes the staff every six weeks; this results in the Department continually briefing FEMA of the status.

“Can you expound on the 100% reimbursement of Public Assistance with FEMA?” asked Sen. Tregenza Roach. Chief of Staff of VIDOE Anthony Thomas stated that the monies for the modular structures would be fully reimbursed once installed within the next six months. If that period passes, the Government of the Virgin Islands is financially responsible for a percentage of the cost of the modular structures.

Separately, VIDOE experienced a sharp decline in student enrollment. There is a total of 10,868 students attending school. However, officials are optimistic that student enrollment will increase for the 2018-2019 school year. Similarly, personnel has also decreased. There have been 60 resignations since the occurrence of the two storms which caused the Department to rely heavily on the substitute pool.

In addition to VIDOE, the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation (DSPR) also shared an update. Assistant Commissioner of DSPR Calvert White stated that an estimated $20 million needed for repairs and damages caused by the hurricanes. Currently, DSPR lacks the upfront cash necessary to fund projects. There is also a low availability of programs for children due to structural damages and safety issues. Therefore, DSPR is coordinating with non-profit organizations to provide activities for the children.

Senators present are Jean Forde, Brian Smith, Tregenza Roach, Marvin Blyden, Novelle Francis, Marvin Blyden, Kurt Vialet, Neville James, Myron Jackson, Dwayne DeGraff and Janelle Sarauw.

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COMMITTEE UPDATED ON THE STATUS OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS EDUCATION SYSTEM POST HURRICANE IRMA AND HURRICANE MARIA

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St. Thomas – The Committee of Education, Youth, and Recreation, chaired by Sen. Jean Forde, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Wednesday, to receive testimony from education officials, on the status of the schools and education system post-Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

 

“There is 2.5 million square foot of our public education system has suffered irreparable damage, some of which can be seen today and that will surface years later,” said Sharon McCollum, Ph.D., Commissioner of V.I. Department of Education (VIDOE). Currently, there are eight schools condemned territory-wide. There are two schools in St. Thomas-St. John District and six schools in the St. Croix District that were damaged extensively. The Curriculum Center and Procurement Warehouse also sustained similar fate.

 

“How was the assessment of the condemned schools conducted?” inquired Sen. Forde. Commissioner McCollum stated that the Army Corp of Engineers and VIDOE maintenance division and engineering team collaborated to conduct assessments.

 

As a result of the condemned schools, VIDOE are holding double sessions to ensure public school students are receiving an adequate education. Commissioner McCollum stated that on the St. Thomas-St. John District, Addelita Cancryn students, are on double sessions with Charlotte Amalie High School. Students at the Gladys Abraham Elementary School are using the Ulla F. Muller Elementary School. On the St. Croix District, the John H. Woodson Junior High School and Elena Christian Junior High School will continue the double session with Central High School.

 

“Will students still meet the requirement of 1080 school hours with the double sessions?” asked Sen. Positive Nelson. Commissioner McCollum said, “Adjustments made to our calendar will assist the Department in supporting our students in meeting 180 instructional days, not 1080 hours.”

 

Sen. Brian Smith asked, “What is the total number of students in both districts post-hurricanes?” Commissioner McCollum stated that there are 3,304 students in the St. Thomas-St. John District. Colleen Williams, Insular Superintendent for the St. Croix District, shared that there are approximately 2,000 enrolled students.

 

Collectively, senators inquired about an assessment for mold remediation in the schools. “The mobilization of my team will commence in the next 72 hours for mold assessment and remediation,” responded Nicole Bootman-Shepard, Disaster Recovery Expert for A.E. Com. Commissioner McCollum added that meanwhile school administrators and school nurses are documenting mole related incidents. All persons are encouraged to report rooms with mold and they are immediately relocated from the alleged infected room or area.

 

However, Carol Callwood, President of the St. Thomas-St. John Federation of Teachers believes that the schools are not ready to open. “I questioned the safety of the job sites with the presence of mold and the impact that it will have on the health and staff of our students.”

 

Committee Members present are senators Jean Forde, Novelle Francis, Kurt Vialet, Tregenza Roach, Brian Smith. Non-Committee senators are Dwayne DeGraff, Janelle Sarauw, Positive Nelson.

SENATE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES POSTPONEMENT OF MEETINGS DUE TO IRMA

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ST. THOMAS – Senate President Myron D. Jackson announces that legislative meetings scheduled for the week of September 4 to 8 are postponed, due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma. The public will be informed of new dates. A final determination regarding the Legislative Session scheduled for September 8 will be made once the storm passes and its impacts are determined, he said.

Regarding the operations of the Legislature on all three islands, legislative employees are expected to report to work for 8 a.m. on Tuesday to secure their offices and, upon completion, will be allowed to leave at noon to continue their hurricane preparations at home. Casual wear is encouraged.

Based on reports from the National Hurricane Center and VITEMA, President Jackson said the Virgin Islands will likely be impacted by wind, rain, and ocean surge, particularly in the northern areas.

“As those reports are received I shall inform the public, all senators and our staff as to the operations of the Legislature,” he said. “All persons should therefore carefully monitor the media, including LEGIT TV – which can be accessed on Channel 5 throughout the territory, for announcements which may inform as to the operational status of the Legislature during the affected period.”

President Jackson said that the Legislature shall operate during this period only as weather conditions permit.

“Should the weather dictate the cessation of our operation for safety and health concerns, those decisions shall be made promptly and specific announcements shall be made,” he said. “I offer a prayer that all persons in the Virgin Islands, the Leeward and Windward Islands, and elsewhere be spared from Hurricane Irma. Please look to protect your families, friends, and properties be safe.”

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VIRGIN ISLANDS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHARES STATUS OF SCHOOL READINESS FOR UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR

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St. Thomas – The Committee on Education, Youth, and Recreation chaired by Sen. Jean Forde held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Wednesday, to receive testimony from officials from the Department of Education on the status of the Virgin Islands Education System for the 2017-2018 academic year.

“The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the readiness of the school facilities that will accommodate teachers and students for the upcoming school year,” said Sen. Forde. “The committee has not done the annual school tour because we are familiar with the activity or lack of activity that took place in the schools. Two weeks ago, monies that were appropriated for summer maintenance was released. Therefore, little activity has occurred.”

The Virgin Islands Department of Education (DOE) had to prioritize the maintenance projects for the 2017-2018 school year because of budget restraints.

Charlesworth McCarthy, Director, Maintenance and Plant Operations for the St. Thomas-St. John District for DOE said, “We conduct preventative maintenance for some of our facilities, which can be categorized as routine, mandatory, and regulated services totaling $815,182. The monies were used to cover the cost of grease trap services, water testing, landscaping, and fire extinguisher re-certifications.”

Additional repairs and maintenance projects included electrical upgrades, air condition replacements, bathroom renovations, and general repairs and maintenance.  Kitchen equipment servicing, pest control applications, and janitorial activities were also completed in preparation for the upcoming school year, according to Director McCarthy.

“From 1-5, one being the highest and five being the lowest, how will you rate school readiness for the 2017-2018 school year?” asked Sen. Smith. Joseph Sibilly, Territorial Director, Maintenance and Plant Operations of DOE stated that he will rate it at two because schools in both districts are ready for the upcoming school year.

However, Sen. Forde stated that the schools may not be ready because funds for maintenance projects were recently released. “If schools are ready yet the money was granted just two weeks ago, that must mean there wasn’t much work to be done then,” said Sen. Forde. “I don’t know how the schools are ready when the heat in the classrooms are unbearable because of the lack of functioning air conditioners. We still have a lot of work to do to assist with providing a functioning classroom environment.”

Separately, the Virgin Islands Board of Education (VIBE) conducted the 2016-2017 School Management Accountability Report. This is a thorough annual assessment and evaluation of public school facilities, school guidance division and school administration in the territory; stated Emmett Hansen, Associate Executive Director of VIBE.

“Based on the report, how would you grade the school system from A to F?” asked Sen. Brian Smith. Kyza Callwood, Member of VIBE said, “I would give it a C because there is always room for improvement.” Sen. Smith further inquired, “What are some of your concerns?” Callwood stated that some of his concerns are that teachers need a raise, maintenance issues, outdated textbooks and there are mold and mosquitos in some classrooms.

Due to the lack of funds, all the challenges that the schools are facing cannot be addressed. “Can you identify the top three problems in the school system?” asked Sen. Forde. Callwood stated that the technological status of the schools and computer accessibility needs to be upgraded, the School Lunch Program and more supplies/resources are needed.

Sen. Tregenza Roach stated that academic achievement needs to play a major role in the Management and Accountability Report.

“The report focuses heavily on maintenance issues. However, there is minimal information on instruction and academic improvement,” said Sen. Roach. “The report should include strengths and weaknesses such as the percentage of college entrances, school dropout rate, and the number of students who passed and failed the Smarter Balance Test.”

“Is there a strategic plan that VIBE has in targeting areas such as revising policies, education curriculum and moving our education system into the 21st century?” asked Sen. Janelle Sarauw. Director Hansen said, “There is quite a bit of work that needs to be done in the Department of Education. VIBE is working on changing policies, creating awareness to administrators and providing mediation for students who are bullied.

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LAWMAKERS RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE TERRITORY

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ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Education, Youth and Recreation, chaired by Sen. Jean Forde, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Thursday, to receive testimony on the current status of the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDOE).

VIDOE is facing insurmountable fiscal, administrative and operational challenges,” said Commissioner of Education Sharon McCollum.

Some of the challenges includes continuing deterioration of the physical conditions of the public schools, the need for an additional $70,000-$90,000 to complete Capital Improvement Projects in regards to deferred maintenance projects, a reduction of 7,128 meals served in the School Breakfast Program and a total of 98 teacher vacancies in core areas such as Elementary Education, Science and Foreign Language, according to Commissioner McCollum.

“The issues are real. The leaks are real. The issue of mold is real. The lack of equipment in the classrooms are real. The shortage of teachers is real,” said Sen. Forde.

Sen. Novelle Francis asked, “Can you share some of the challenges of the budget cuts as it pertains to the Impact Statement that VIDOE submitted to the Office of Management and Budget?” Muriel Fenton, Director of Financial Reporting and Program Quality Assurance said, “The Impact Statement mainly refers to maintenance needs as well as ongoing contracts such as security and transportation.” Commissioner McCollum added that $800,000 is set aside for ongoing contracts which leaves very little funds for maintenance projects. “We simply need more money,” said Commissioner McCollum.

Sen. Neville James said, “The lack of maintenance in the public schools impacts everything because teachers have to work in the classroom. There are schools in the territory that are almost 50 years old that requires an upgraded infrastructure.” Sen. James continued, “My focus really is to get a better financial foundation so that improvements can be made in the Department of Education.”

Separately, Sen. Forde asked, “What were the findings of the audit?” In response, Colleen Williams, Insular Superintendent of the St. Croix District said, “We have a chief financial officer who oversees the finances of the schools. Overall, principals are doing well with following the guidelines in terms of spending.” Dionne Wells-Hendrington, Insular Superintendent of the St. Thomas-St. John District stated that they had a similar report. “Are the reports of the audit made public?” asked Sen. Forde. Commissioner McCollum stated that all of the reports are public and can be distributed upon request.

Despite VIDOE funding deficiencies, academically, students are showing signs of improvement in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics.

Sen. Brian Smith asked, “How does the student’s 2016 Smarter Balanced Assessments differ from 2015?” “In ELA, the percent of students that met or exceeded standards as of Spring 2016 was 20%, which is an increase of three percentage points from the 2015 for the Smarter Balanced Assessments,” said Alexandria Baltimore-Hookfin, Director of State Assessment. She added that the percentage of students who fell in the lowest performance category in Math has decreased as well.

“Are we meeting requirements in terms of having sufficient ELA teachers in the classrooms?” asked Sen. Smith. In response, Colleen Williams, Insular Superintendent of the St. Croix said currently there are a shortage of teachers. However, VIDOE has purchased online learning resources to accommodate students with ELA.”

Similarly, Sen. Tregenza Roach asked, “What is the status of the nursing vacancies?” Commissioner McCollum said, “We are being creative by utilizing retired nurses who are happy to come on board.”

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