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May 2024
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PERMANENT CLOSURE OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS BILL HELD IN COMMITTEE

Published: Nov 17, 2020

ST. CROIX–The Committee on Education and Workforce Development, chaired by Senator Donna Frett-Gregory, continued to meet Tuesday afternoon in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Chambers on St. Croix to receive testimony on  Bill No.33-0239, an Act amending the V.I. Code relating to the permanent closure of public schools. Senator Myron Jackson sponsored the measure.

Racquel Berry-Benjamin, Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE), said the Bill gives the Board of Education the authority to recommend a public school’s permanent closure. It also provides that the Commissioner of Education must consult with the Board of Education before making a final decision to close a public school and that before the closure of any school, the Board of Education and VIDE must provide testimony to the Legislature on the condition of the school, the reasons for the closure, and the future use if any.

According to her, VIDE supports the Bill, as it sees no harm with its intent to ensure all parties are privy to the Department’s reason(s) for the closure of a public school before such a decision is made.

Testimony from Chairwoman Arah Lockhart of the V.I. Board of Education was read into the record, thanking Sen. Jackson for including them in the decision-making process related to permanent school closures.

In her testimony, she indicated the Board is tasked with providing the Governor and the Senate with a School Plant and Facilities Management Report annually. This report provides a comprehensive assessment of the condition of the Territory’s public schools. The Board welcomes any opportunity to have a seat at the table with other pertinent stakeholders, to include community residents, when a decision of this magnitude is being made. The Bill was held in the Committee for further consideration.

During the consideration of this Bill, the Senators present were: Chairwoman Donna Frett-Gregory, Kurt Vialet, Javan James, Sr., Janelle Sarauw, Steven Payne, Sr., Myron Jackson, and Stedmann Hodge, Sr.

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