Local crews employed by architectural and engineering firm APTIM perform work at Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School on St. Croix, Wednesday, July 11. The school is one of six sites where APTIM will complete mold remediation, roof repairs, sanitation and other necessary repairs.
Contractors procured by the Virgin Islands Department of Education (DOE) have made significant progress in the first phase of preparing schools for the September 4 opening of the 2018-19 school year.
Territory-wide, a minimum of 240 temporary classrooms and administration buildings, along with 14 multi-purpose Sprung structures will be erected as part of the full-service turnkey project being performed by architectural and engineering (A&E) firm AECOM.
Currently, all multi-purpose Sprung structures have arrived in the territory and modular units are expected to begin arriving on July 26.
While the majority of the work comes under the DOE’s 2018 Temporary School Facilities Project that is managed and facilitated by AECOM, A&E firm APTIM has also been contracted to perform temporary repairs at designated schools on St. Croix.
A completion deadline of August 28 has been determined for both the temporary facilities and temporary repairs projects.
St. Croix District
Arthur A. Richards Junior High School (AARJHS) makes up 55 percent of AECOM’s work in the St. Croix district. The Frederiksted school has been declared a total loss by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and will receive 49 modular units for use as classrooms and administrative offices, and three multi-purpose buildings for the school’s gymnasium, kitchen and cafeteria. Crews are currently constructing the foundations upon which the structures will stand.
AECOM construction manager for the St. Croix District, Josh Gerard, said the modular classrooms and multi-purpose Sprung structures were designed to withstand 150 mph winds, and will be of use for three to five years.
“With the foundation we’re putting down and the engineering and planning that went into this project, these buildings will be sturdy,” he said.
Once the modular classrooms arrive in the territory and are placed at their designated locations, AECOM will immediately begin connecting electricity, water and sewage lines. All sites are ‘wet,’ referring to the ready access to main connection lines for water and power through the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority.
In addition to Arthur Richards, modular classrooms and/or Sprung structures will be placed at John H. Woodson Junior High, Eulalie Rivera Elementary, Pearl B. Larsen Elementary, and St. Croix Central High schools.
APTIM’s 2018 Temporary Campus Repairs Project on St. Croix includes mold remediation, asbestos abatement, roof repairs, and cleaning at Pearl B. Larsen Elementary, Eulalie Rivera Elementary, Lew Muckle Elementary, Alfredo Andrews Elementary, Alexander Henderson Elementary, and John H. Woodson Junior High schools, as well as the music building at the St. Croix Central High School.
St. Thomas-St. John District
AECOM’s Temporary School Facilities Project in the St. Thomas-St. John District includes the placement of modular classrooms and/or multi-purpose Sprung structures at Julius Sprauve, Gladys Abraham Elementary (at Lockhart Elementary), Addelita Cancryn Junior High (at Lockhart Elementary & Charlotte Amalie High School), E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary (at Yvonne E. Milliner-Bowsky Elementary and Joseph Gomez Elementary), Raphael O. Wheatley Skills Center, and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.
Furthermore, the Charlotte Amalie High School (CAHS) gymnasium will receive temporary roof and floor repairs, which will be completed by Big Lee, Inc., a St. Thomas-based construction firm that has previously performed work in Department schools. The gymnasium’s wooden floors have been removed and will be replaced with a sports-friendly surface. Several classrooms at CAHS will also receive asbestos abatement services by Environmental Concepts (ENCON). AECOM will also complete temporary repairs to the Ulla F. Muller and Joseph Gomez elementary schools.
A Memorandum of Understanding is currently being devised between the Department of Education and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority for the use of the parcel of land adjacent to the west of Charlotte Amalie High School until December 31. The land will be used as a practice area for sports teams and the marching band, as well as the outdoor location for physical education classes. This provision allows for students to remain on campus during the school day, eliminating the need to transport students to and from the Lionel Roberts Stadium, as was previously arranged. The DOE retains its agreement with the Department of Sports, Parks & Recreation for use of the stadium and a similar agreement stands with the University of the Virgin Islands.
AECOM Project Director Patrick Mitchell said the most challenging phase of the project has been logistics.
“Once all of the materials and structures get on island, the work is easy,” he said. “It’s the logistics that is most tough to navigate. We’ve chartered freight liners from Global Go to provide seamless shipping services from the mainland here.”
At a recent tour of worksites with members of the local media, Department of Education Chief of Staff Anthony Thomas said the Department remains focused on ensuring students return to a full school day in safe and comfortable facilities.
“We will be ready to receive students at the September 4 opening,” he said.
Thomas further explained that following the opening of schools in September, school recovery efforts will commence Phase 2, which addresses permanent repairs and rebuilding of schools.
“When the schools open back up, you’ll see teams at the sites doing walkthroughs, assessments and evaluations for permanent repairs,” he said. “We will soon begin the RFP’s [request for proposal] for those projects.”