Concern Raised About Using Derelict Hotel To House BHS Jermine Abel The opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is calling on the government to conduct a thorough inspection of the derelict Fort Thomas Hotel before it could be considered an alternative to house the Basseterre High School. Dr. Terrance Drew, SKNLP candidate, speaking with the Observer said that the former hotel has been out of use for a number of years and as such it would have accumulated fungi, which is one of the problems currently affecting the Basseterre High School (BHS). “I think that part of the findings (at BHS) was the presence of fungus or fungi and they thought that this would have some impact on the children, so they were advised to clear the school and clean the school and get rid of the fungi colonies,” he recalled. “When we look at the Fort Thomas Hotel, that building has been abandoned for years. It has been closed and it is a building that has a few years behind it. So these are the conditions under which fungi grows. If we are saying that Basseterre High School had that same issue and that was a school that was opened up… we can imagine what is at Fort Thomas.” During Tuesday’s (June 30) sitting of the National Assembly, Minister Of Education, Hon. Shawn Richards outlined several proposals that the Ministry has for relocating BHS. In addition to the renovation of the Fort Thomas Hotel, they are mulling building wooden classrooms on the property and the purchase of modular type classrooms. “One of the engineers at public works along with a representative from the Teachers Union will be travelling to the US very shortly to look at the modular classrooms to see whether or not they would be fit our purpose, and to basically advise the government as to whether or not this is an option that would be considered viable,” the Minister explained. However, this did not sit well with Dr. Drew; he is calling on the government to undertake similar tests at the proposed venue that were conduct at the BHS. “We don’t want them to just clean up the area and then put the students there without doing the necessary investigations to ensure that the environment is truly safe,” he said. He holds mixed views on the possibility of having the facility opened for classes in the short term. “I don’t see how eight weeks could be enough if you really want to open the school in September but I will leave that for the experts to determine.” Meanwhile, Minister Richards also told the House that his ministry held meetings with key stakeholders to discuss how best to depart from the current shift system in place at the Washington Archibald High School. “We’ve been having several discussions with the teachers, with the Union, and with other stakeholders as to how we can go about alleviating the shift system. We have had several meetings with the stakeholders, we have asked for reports from the public works department…” “We are in the process of reviewing the options which are before us.” The Basseterre High School has been plagued by reports of illnesses affecting students and teachers. The presence of mold, rat and insect droppings and pungent smells were some of the challenges those at the learning institution faced before they protested and the former government was forced to close the school in November. Hon. Richards told The Observer that Dr. Drew and the Labour Party should be the last persons to be giving advice as it relates to the handling of the BHS situation. “Dr. Drew and his Labour cohorts had almost five year to fix the problem at BHS and did not. Now they want to dictate to this government what to do in respect of Basseterre High. They have no moral authority to be giving any advice,” he said. The Minister assured that Public Works had already assessed the property and deemed it structurally sound. “… but every precaution will be taken to ensure the environment is safe for the staff and students before and after, if we decide to renovate.”