Gov. Kenneth Mapp, flanked by Finance Commissioner Valdamier Collens (left) and Management and Budget Director Nellon Bowry. St. John Tradewinds News photo courtesy of Judi Shimel.
The three top officials held a briefing for members of the press June 21 to outline spending priorities in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
Plans to build a new K-8 public school on St. John and a new fire house in Coral Bay were listed among those priority items. But Mapp said the original design for a new school complex should be scaled down from its original size.
ST. THOMAS — Going forward with plans to build a new public school for St. John was among the priorities named by Gov. Kenneth Mapp in his 2017 budget plan.
The governor held a press briefing June 21 to highlight portions of the budget. The $1.35 billion spending plan was submitted to the 31st Legislature at the end of May.
In the transmittal letter sent to Senate President Neville James, Mapp presented a list of capital projects he wanted to see funded in the coming year. One section addressed construction and renovation projects for schools on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.
“The budget will address the cost of maintenance and restoration of a number of public schools, including the shuttered Elena Christian Jr. High the Evelyn Williams and Joseph Gomez Elementary Schools In addition we have identified local land to construct the new K-8 grade school on the island of St. John,” the governor said.
Thirty-two million dollars is being asked to acquire land, build and equip a St. John elementary and middle school. Funding from a portion of Series 2016 Bonds was identified as the funding source to get the job done.
Attempts to build a replacement for the Julius E. Sprauve School in Cruz Bay have been going on since the late 1980s. During the previous administration of former Govs. Charles Turnbull and John de Jongh talks took place with the National Park Service about procuring land for construction. A parcel near Estate Catherineberg was identified as a relocation site.
Mapp told reporters a hurdle was cleared when it was discovered that the identified site did not need to be approved by NPS. Earlier this year the governor and Chief of Staff Randy Knight visited the island to review plans created by Jaredian Design.
At the briefing the governor said the original plan should be scaled down. The original plan called for space to accommodate students from kindergarten through 12th. Since then a decision was made to keep the K-8 format Sprauve School had from the beginning.
Now, the relocated school will be built with to accommodate 300 students, plus educators and staff.
Also included in the governor’s request is $14 million to build two new fire stations. The Romeo Company Fire Station in Coral Bay was identified as one of the two stations slated for construction.