The saga surrounding Basseterre High School is flaring up again.
The latest controversy came about when Minister of Education the Hon. Shawn Richards announced that the committee searching for possible sites had recommended the old Victoria Road campus as a possible location. However, Opposition Senator and former educator Nigel Carty who has been involved in the project since the start, said the proverbial foul has come home to roost regarding the campus.
Referring to comments Mr. Richards made at the government’s recent town hall meeting when he mentioned that five sites were being considered, the Minister backtracked and said only one site was on the table. Carty believes the government is walking back on a site they had heavily criticized in the past.
Mr. Carty added, “I say that because the Minister is cleverly trying to get one over, but people who are smart under stand what he is trying to do.”
At its town hall meeting in Newton in July, the Education Minister was emotional as he told the crowd that he believed the old campus was not an option because the government still has not discovered the reasons that students became ill.
‘There are psychological issues and concerns with the old Basseterre High School because as far as persons are concerned the site is contaminated,” he said. “To date, we have not received a single report that has indicated definitively what is the cause of the environmental issues at that site.”
Mr. Richards said even if the government tears down the current school and removes the topsoil, the inherent problem would still exist. On his party’s weekly radio program Wednesday, he said if there is a problem with the site, why did the committee make that as one of the recommended sites for the new school? He suggewted that the people are being fooled and that a game of deception is being played. At the town hall meeting, the Minister identified the sites under consideration as a land plot near the University of Health Sciences, one near the old BHS campus, one near TDC and a land plot along the island’s main road in Needsmust.
He also said a technical committee was created to guide the government on some issues in finding a permanent location for the school.
Three years ago, Basseterre High School students and their teachers held street demonstrations to protest strange illnesses that were occuring at the Victoria Road campus. Then in 2014, the government decided to relocate students on a shift system to Washington Archibald High School. After the elections last year, the Team Unity Administration ended the shift system and moved the students to several different locations around Basseterre.
A temporary structure was built for the students while the government considers where to spend EC$10 million on the new school.