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Thursday 21 November 2019
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Charles says land identified for new school

The unsafe laboratory area of the Scarborough Secondary School has been cordoned off. PHOTO BY DAVID REID - DAVID REID
The unsafe laboratory area of the Scarborough Secondary School has been cordoned off. PHOTO BY DAVID REID - DAVID REID

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said plans are on stream to construct a new Scarborough Secondary School.

Addressing at a news conference at Mt Irvine Bay Resort, on Wednesday, Charles said a parcel of land has already been identified but he prefers not to say where it is located at this time.

"We are in the process of doing a valuation on that parcel of land after which, of course, the process of acquisition will begin," he told reporters.

"The preferred approach is by private treaty, of course. So, we are moving as quickly as we can on that. And then the designs and the necessary funds."

Charles, who is also Secretary for Education, Innovation and Energy, could not give a time frame for the construction.

"I am hoping we can reach a settlement between the proposed vendor and take it from there."

Charles' announcement of plans to build a new school came after a putrid, burning scent on Tuesday led to the evacuation of Block A of the institution.

School officials later learnt the scent was caused by the overheating of lighting fixtures along the block.

David Thomas, PRO, Tobago Division, TT Fire Service, told Newsday Tobago on Tuesday an investigation revealed a failure of the electrical system for the fixtures.

Charles said on Wednesday he was advised all of the remedial works on the block were completed.

"I believe that all of the remedial works are completed because at about some minutes after three (on Wednesday afternoon), a final set of works at Block A were 95 per cent complete and since we are talking installation of LED lights replacing the fluorescent fixtures, it is reasonable to conclude that those works are completed."

Charles said given the location of the school, the ballasts and ends of some of the fixtures tend to rust.

"So, what we did was to take the opportunity, instead of just replacing the fluorescent fixtures with new fluorescent fixtures, we move one time to LED fixtures, which do not carry ballasts and which, of course, are more durable and safer."

Charles also responded to questions about a shortage of teachers at the school.

Newsday Tobago learnt two English teachers were retained recently.

Charles said filling vacancies can sometimes be a lengthy process.

"One of the things we must recognise sometimes is that we are faced with resignations and sometimes the resignations are with immediate effect. Then, it is a process to get someone in."

On Thursday, students staged a placard protest near the school's entrance, demanding that students and teachers be relocated.

Teachers, meanwhile, have vowed to stay away from classes until the Electrical Inspectorate visits the school

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