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Big Labour Day support expected for Tacky High

By RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 18, 2014    

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Representatives of several organisations will be joining hands to work at the Tacky High School on Labour Day, May 23.

The school was affected by a blaze over a week ago after criminals broke into the administrative block and lit the institution, which has earned the condemnation of several people.

Come Friday, many will be showing that they are not just about talk but will be doing all they can to get the school back in full working order. Classes have since resumed at the institution; however, there is much work to be done to replace the staff room and other important facilities. Teachers are presently using the school's library as a staff room.

The estimated damage suffered at the school is said to be approximately $50 million.

While the fire has influenced the big support for the school, work to be done on the institution will not be contained to the burnt-out section, as most of the repair will be done on other sections of the school.

At a press conference held at the Couples Tower Isle resort last Thursday, principal of the school Errol Bascoe said that the Ministry of Education is awaiting a structural engineer's examination before the rebuilding process can start.

Member of Parliament for Western St Mary, Joylan Silvera said the the education ministry will be seeking to take the school off the shift system and so the engineer is expected to provide information as to whether or not expansion would be possible. However, several other areas of the school will be addressed through the cooperation of several entities.

Bascoe revealed that the burnt-out building will be power washed as part of the Labour Day activities. Debris in the burnt-out section have been removed by staff and community members who came together after the fire last week.

Although it is not the official Labour Day project of the parish, Silvera said that he expects "great support" for it. He pointed out that several organisations had already committed their support to the institution.

"I am confident that Labour Day will be a successful one," he said.

Among the organisations which will have a presence at the facility on Friday are Couples Tower Isle, Jamaica National Building Society, National Water Commission, Rural Agricultural Development Agency, St Mary Parish Council, and the NCB Foundation.

Silvera said that there are also several private donations to the project. The MP also revealed that a significant portion of funds for Labour Day in his constituency will be going towards the Tacky High School project.

The Social Development Commission will be coordinating the activities at the school which serves approximately 1, 200 students.

Bascoe said that he is happy for the outpouring of support for the institution.

"I am more than delighted," he told those attending the press conference.

Among the work to be done, he said, will be landscaping and tree planting. Bascoe said that there will be some amount of plumbing work included in the day's activities.

"We have some serious plumbing issues," he revealed, ading that the school has been receiving exhorbitant bills which he thinks is as a result of leaking pipes.

While many will be assisting, he said that the school still needs all the help that it can get.

"We are still appealing to corporate Jamaica for help," he added.

Food For the Poor is expected to construct a temporary staffroom for the teachers while assessments and recommendations are made regarding the burnt-out section of the school.

Dialogue is also being had with the Digicel Foundation regarding work at the school.

Also addressing the press conference, Leonard Henry, general manager of Couples Tower Isle, said that the resort will be undertaking painting and replacing of whiteboards at the school. He said that the resort will also be seeking to fix some of the bathroom fixtures.

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