New classrooms in works for St Ann schools
Authorities at the Ocho Rios Primary and Discovery Bay All-Age schools in St Ann are expressing delight at news that they will each receive eight additional classrooms in time for the next school year.
The projects, which will cost a combined $84 million, will enable the schools to end the shift system that has been in place for several years. The Estimates of Expenditure, tabled in the House of Representatives last week, reveal that $42 million is to be spent at Discovery Bay All-Age and a similar amount at the Ocho Rios Primary School.
Principal at Ocho Rios Primary, Gertrude McFarlane, said the new classrooms will solve several problems at the institution.
"We have overcrowding," McFarlane told The Gleaner. "Our grade four, we would like to have some more space for the students down there. Another major problem at grade four is that the classes are separated by partitions, which is just a blackboard, so there is noise disturbance and interference by students themselves."
Additionally, because the classrooms are built with decorative blocks to help with ventilation, this also allows water to enter the classrooms whenever it rains.
She further explained that because of a shift system, a classroom is used by two sets of students, and teachers who offer extra classes are having problems finding space during regular school days.
Discovery Bay All-Age was built to accommodate 350 students, but with the school population expanding at times to around 600, a shift system was instituted some years ago.
"The eight additional classrooms will get us off the shift system," Clark said.
"This means that a lot of our activities which have been negatively impacted by the shift system would now benefit. We would be able to improve on our extracurricular activities and extra lessons would get attention.
"Students have fallen behind the desired outcomes because of the shift system. With the shift system no longer in place, I see increased output coming in all areas and it makes me feel good. It will really help us. This is something we have all longed for at Discovery Bay.
"I can't find words to express my feelings of elation," Clark said.
Discovery Bay is to benefit from the construction of eight classrooms, a staffroom, a sanitation room, fencing, among other things.