Christiana High’s plea

CHRISTIANA, Manchester – Even as ground was broken at Holmwood Technical High School for a four-storey classroom block, Councillor Desmond Harrison (Jamaica Labour Party, Christiana Division) has called for additional classrooms to ease overcrowding at the nearby Christiana High.

“Within our area of Christiana there is a student population growth, and even outside of Christiana we do have student population growth,” Harrison, a former mayor of Mandeville, said last week.

He was addressing the ground-breaking ceremony for the $185-million classroom block at Holmwood Technical last Thursday.

“This gesture today to put on another block here at the Holmwood Technical High School is a welcomed one and one that we all will appreciate and one that will help not only north-east Manchester…because students come to this school from all over,” said Harrison.

“This will also help the Christiana High School, because that school is bursting at the seams. Hence, the reason the school is on a two-shift system,” added Harrison.

He made an appeal to Minister of Education Fayval Williams to prioritise expanding Christiana High.

“Madam minister, I am asking you to please try to see if you can help the Christiana High School by putting on another block, because we do have the space,” said Harrison.

Williams later told journalists that she is aware of the classroom constraints at Christiana High.

“I have visited Christiana High School and I see the constraints that they have there. Yes, when you look at it there needs to be some work done there. My understanding from the planners of schools, when they do their surveys and they look at needs across the system, they look at communities, they look at where children come from, they look at the space, the physical space, the land space that the school has to expand, they take all of that into consideration,” said Williams.

“While Christiana High School is constrained, my understanding is the land space is constrained as well, so, in the meantime you expand Holmwood Technical High School [and] take some of the pressure off Christiana High School, but in time as well I know that we have to do some retrofitting and staffroom and other areas there to bring them up to a standard as well,” added Williams.

Principal of Holmwood Technical High Hidran McKulsky suggested the expansion of his school was a possible solution to overcrowding at the nearby institutions.

“A part of the solution to the shift system not only at the Christiana High School and Bellefield High School is the construction of this block. We have the space. We are on over 33 acres of property. I can’t speak to the land space of the other schools, but what I know for sure is that any expansion that is worthwhile in today’s setting where school is concerned ought to be expanding the technical learning space,” said McKulsky.

The four-storey new classroom block at Holmwood High to accommodate more than 300 students is expected to be completed within 10 months and is being undertaken by C&D Construction and Engineering company.

Executive director of the National Education Trust, Latoya Harris-Ghartey, told journalists that other school expansion projects are planned for Manchester.

“In Mandeville itself, we are expanding Mount Saint Joseph. We are in procurement now for that actually. We are going to do some work at Christiana, Bellefield [and] Mile Gully. A brand new plant [is being planned] for the [Mile Gully] High School. Belair and New Forest High are the secondary schools that we have immediate plans for right now,” said Harris-Ghartey.

She added that the expansion project at Mount Saint Joseph should see the construction of classrooms in the next financial year.

In the meantime, the education minister explained that children with disabilities will be accommodated at Holmwood Technical High after the construction.

“Importantly, given that it is a four-storey building, we will have lifts and ramps to ensure that children with disabilities will have access to that building as well,” said Williams.