Sunday, April 21, 2024

SPHS looking to raise 350k for much-needed repairs

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The island’s only secondary education institution, the San Pedro High School (SPHS), is seeking to raise $350,000 to fund the repairs of three sections of their main building. These include an area of the floor in their computer laboratory, the entire ceiling of the staff room, and the science laboratory. As a result, some classrooms in the main facility are not in use until there are repairs. To accommodate the shortage of classrooms, students are currently on a shift system whereby first and second formers attend classes in the morning and senior students in the afternoon. To raise much-needed funds, the SPHS is holding a telethon on Friday, October 27th, with the assistance of Reef TV. The school will also be hosting a dollar drive with the support of their students and teachers. The high school administration also welcomes donors at their offices on Spider Lily Street offices in Boca del Rio and can be reached at 226-2045.
SPHS Principal Emil Vasquez shared with The San Pedro Sun that they have started the repairs but that to complete the works in a suitable amount of time, the school needs additional funds they do not have. The areas used for classes were deemed safe after engineers inspected the building and identified the three areas that must undergo renovations. Vasquez said that they have managed to start repairing a section of the computer laboratory and the staff room, but more assistance is needed. “We are looking for funding sources to continue the repairs,” said Vasquez. He looks forward to the community’s support and anyone beyond the island who can help in this worthy cause.
One of the issues highlighted by Vice Principal Conchita Flota is that the shift system is taking a toll on students and teachers. Due to the limited space available, some students attend classes in the morning or afternoon. Flota said this has extended the classes to around 6PM to accommodate the 670 students attending SPHS. “Our teachers and students are getting tired and stressed as it is a long day,” said Flota. She invited everyone to support them in their fundraiser on Friday, including past students, to join their campaign.
The principals noted that the SPHS compound is also part of San Pedro Adult Continuing Education, open to adults interested in finishing their high school education. The campus is also home to the San Pedro Junior College; thus, the educational campaign goes beyond the need to address issues affecting the high school only. Vasquez added that some stakeholders and even the Ministry of Education have pledged assistance to the school.
The discovery of the damaged areas of the building
The SPHS administration shared that on Sunday, July 30th, the security and maintenance personnel reported hearing a loud noise around 9AM. They checked around and outside the building but did not notice anything unusual. The following Monday, a teacher visited the staff room around 5PM and discovered that a section of the ceiling had collapsed. It was reported immediately, and on Tuesday, August 1st, Principal Vasquez inspected the damage and closed off that portion of the building for the engineers’ assessment.

The Ministry of Education was informed, and the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development Engineer Irving Thimbriel visited the SPHS on August 9th. He recommended the immediate strengthening of wooden stairs and a wooden veranda. Thimbriel also recommended further evaluation of the building by structural engineers. Following a meeting, the SPHS board of management recommended hiring the services of a private structural engineer. By August 11th, structural engineer Roque Matus from M & M Engineering made a preliminary inspection. He deemed many of the classrooms safe; however, Matus recommended a more in-depth assessment of the main building. During August 12th and 13th, Matus had another structural engineer, Ali Bautista, conduct an in-depth inspection, revealing the other areas needed immediate repairs, such as the computer and science laboratory.
After consulting with the engineers and contractors, the estimate of the total funds needed to repair these high school main building sections totaled $349 593.56 or roughly $350,000.

As a community high school founded in 1971, SPHS is now appealing to its community for assistance and to return to its regular schedule. “We are also appealing to our local town authorities, businesses, organizations, alumni, community members, parents, and any other donor that can assist,” said Vasquez. He emphasized that any contribution would be of great assistance.
Besides being an educational facility, the SPHS’ structures and compound serve as hurricane shelters and facilities for municipal and general elections and other community activities.

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