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Parents willing to rebuild Liberty Hill Primary

‘We will help’

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 17, 2014    

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Parents of children at Liberty Hill Primary School in Dumbarton, St Ann, which was destroyed by fire two weeks ago, have expressed concerns that the structure may not be rebuilt because of its already low student population.

Ninety-one students were enrolled at the institution which was destroyed by fire on March 3.

Parents say they are prepared to offer free labour to rebuild the school in order to ensure that the school continues to operate in the community.

The residents made the announcement at a recently held meeting with officials from the Ministry of Education and Member of Parliament Dr Dayton Campbell.

"We have labourers and materials," one parent told the meeting, "The community is ready to go ahead."

"What we are worried about is that we will not be getting back a school," another parent stated.

Proving how dedicated they were to reconstructing the school, debris was cleaned from the premises just days after the fire, and the school grounds were prepared for any upcoming work.

The parents said they were prepared to have the school ready in a matter of days. However, Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Dayton Campbell told them that there were procedures to be followed.

"There is a standard how we build a school," he explained.

Campbell told them that technical persons have to come in to examine the property and other steps followed to ensure that the building is reconstructed in keeping with required standards.

The MP also sought to reassure the residents that the school will be rebuilt. According to Campbell, several business establishments have committed to providing material for the rebuilding process. Members of the Diaspora, he said, were also willing to assist.

Director of Region Three in the Education Ministry Maxine Headlam said while she was unable to give a time frame for the reconstruction of the school, plans will be implemented to have the school rebuilt.

In the meantime, a transportation system was to be put in place to take the students from the community to the Discovery Bay All-Age where both staff and students have been relocated.

According to Dr Campbell, he has spoken to the Education Minister who will be engaging the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in order to secure travelling subsidies for the students through PATH.

Although they did not readily accept a decision by the education ministry to have the 91 students integrated into the Discovery Bay All-Age, the parents who have conceded to doing what is best for their children say they hope this arrangement will not be for much longer.

Many parents were also concerned that students had to be relocated to Discovery Bay and not other schools. However, they were advised that it was best to keep the students together so that they can be accounted for when their school reopens.

The parents were also adamant that the nearby church could be used to hold classes until the institution is repaired.

"We cannot put a filing cabinet in the church," Headlam explained, adding that the church was not an ideal location to operate from.

"We don't have a school, so we have to do what's best for the students...there is no way we could have gone back to normalcy after such devastation," Campbell said.

Stating that it will take some time to rebuild the school, Headlam said the best choice was to have the students placed at Discovery Bay All-Age School.

"It cannot happen overnight and so plans have to be implemented for the students," she explained.

The parents were also concerned about members of the ancillary staff who will be out of job as a result of the fire.

CAPTION

(Liberty hill)

Liberty Hill Primary School which was destroyed by fire recently.

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