Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams, yesterday (June 20), broke ground for the construction of an 11-classroom block, among other amenities, at Bridgeport High School in Portmore, St Catherine.
The work, to be undertaken through the National Education Trust (NET) at a cost of J$253 million, will also include construction of two science laboratories, a Home Economics workshop, and bathroom facilities.
The expansion will benefit just over 1,600 students and is slated to be completed within 10 months, ahead of the 2024/25 academic year.
These additional provisions are expected to significantly aid in removing the institution from the shift system.
This is aligned with the Administration’s commitment to remove the system from all institutions where it is being utilised.
“The Government has reiterated this commitment through an increase in the budget allocated to this Ministry, and we continue to fulfil that mandate in a targeted, efficient, and effective manner,” Minister Williams stated in her remarks.
For her part, Executive Director of NET, Latoya Harris-Ghartey, said she has tasked the team with ensuring that the project timeline is met.
“[This] so that the school will have the facilities for full rollout come September 2024 and also to ensure that it keeps within budget,” she stated.
“We know that infrastructure is a critical part of learning outcomes for students, and the new building will boast the latest state-of-the-art facilities… and the rich history of Bridgeport will be enhanced through improved infrastructure,” Harris-Ghartey added.
Meanwhile, an elated Principal, Beverley Harris, expressed her gratitude to all the parties involved in the expansion project.
“I want to say many thanks, including to the [Portmore Municipal Corporation] which waived the building plan [fees for the construction],” she disclosed.
“Our 1,626 students, 103 teachers, 50-plus support staff members, to include ancillary staff, administrators [and] our security staff, we’re overjoyed… we’re happy,” she told JIS News.
SHIFT SYSTEM TO BE REMOVED FROM 32 SCHOOLS
Harris said no classes are expected to be disrupted during the construction exercise.
“The closest classrooms [to the construction site] are the science labs, but there shouldn’t be any major disruptions. We’re also promised that it shouldn’t disrupt the regular flow of the school schedule,” she advised.
Harris said after the expansion is completed, the start time for classes will move from 6:45 a.m. to about 8:00 a.m. Bridgeport High is the second of 32 schools being removed from the shift system.
This follows Black River High in St Elizabeth, for which the system’s removal takes effect at the start of the 2023/24 academic year in September.