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Progress report School St Maarten 31 March 2021

Progress report Exceptional School project Sint Maarten – Global Grant 18 68450
Sister Marie Laurence Primary School

update 31st March 2021

Authors: Tanja Frederiks-Vliegen, John Caputo, Gert-Jan van Dommelen

On 6 September 2017 Hurricane Irma hit St. Maarten on 6 September 2017
with immense force. The Sister Marie Laurence Primary School suffered
extensive damage due the passing of Hurricane Irma, and consequently was
entirely looted and completely vandalized, leaving behind literally just
the shell of the school.

Twelve International Rotary Clubs decided to support the “Exceptional School”

project for the Sister Marie Laurence Primary school with funds and vocational

support. The related Global Grant 18.68450 has been approved by The Rotary

Foundation in October 2018. The Project description can be found at pages 6-7.

The Global Grant has three parts:

1.

Outside Community Space of the school: basketball court, playground and garden community space

2.

New school designed to facilitate inclusive education and multi-functional purposes like community building and hurricane shelter. The Rotary Global Grant supports refurbishment and equipment for the new school.

3.

Training and education program to enable inclusive education.

Project progress has been slow, due to delays of the agreements between the governments of The Netherlands, Sint Maarten and the World Bank, new elections, lack of resources and the Covid-19 crisis. Despite the delay there are positive developments:

1.

The establishment of the Outside Community Space of the school is almost completed. Kick-off of the construction was on 6th March 2020, the Basketball court has been realized in August 2020, maintained by the School board and in use by the youth of the community of Middle Region. Currently the playground and Garden Community Space are being finished and the reopening has been planned for June 2021. See more on pages 2-3.

2.

On June 5th, 2020, the government of Sint Maarten approved the budget for a project called “Fostering Resilient Learning”, which includes the rebuilding of the Sister Marie Laurence Primary School, one other elementary school and the library. The preparations for the process of rebuilding the school have started and the tendering process is about to start. See more about this on pages 4-5.

3.

The first training to 13 teachers and staff members of the School has been completed in October 2019. See more on page 5.

This report gives an overview of activities and progress so far.

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Status and progress

1. The establishment of the Outside Community Space of the school is almost completed with a planned reopening in June 2021:

·

Kickoff took place on 6th March 2020, performed by Rodolphe E. Samuel, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.

·

The National Disaster Fund made funds available for this part of the project.

·

33,071 USD is available from the Rotary Global Grant, of which 17,803 have been spent (e.g. fencing, basketball equipment, tribunes, rubber tiles for the playground).

·

The Basketball court has been realized in August 2020, maintained by the School board and in use by the youth of the community of Middle Region.

·

Currently the playground and Garden Community Space are being finished and the reopening has been planned for June 2021.

a.

Basketball Court (phase 1)
The basketball court has been in use by the community youth since August 2020 and is now completely finalized. The Ministry of VROMI is working on getting the electrical situation sorted so that the lights can be added to the electrical grid that falls under the government's budget. The community is very happy with the new basketball court, and it is being used daily by many persons of the Community.

b.

Playground (phase 2)
The funding for the infrastructure has been secured via the Resources 4 Community Resiliency. Also, the remaining $7K of the Global Grant funds allocated to the Outside Community Space have been used for rubber tiles and fencing. The 2nd hand equipment of Amsterdam arrived in February 2021. An inventory has been made of the pieces of equipment that can be used. Some pieces need a little cleaning and a bit of a paint job, and that is currently ongoing. A draft layout has been made to see how best this equipment can be set up, keeping safety of the users in mind. There are many more conditions to adhere to via this funding agency, so things are delayed just a little. The deadline of completion is mid-May 2021, but the plan is to have it done before that time. Construction has commenced during the month of March 2021.

c.

Garden Area (phase 3)
This area is now referred to as the Garden Community Space, as per the name of the project of the Red Cross and the St. Maarten Development Fund. The infrastructure of this is now completed (so it's completed before phase 2 actually). A survey has been held amongst the residents of Middle Region, during which they indicated their wishes for the use of this space. This is currently being worked on, to see what is possible. Outdoor exercise equipment was one of their wishes, so prices are being looked into to see what is possible with their remaining budget. Via another initiative of the Red Cross, the Garden Community Space has been beautified with some greenery. The community came out to assist with the planting session, and simultaneously the garden bin was decorated and painted by some of the youth of Middle Region.


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2. The establishment of the New School is about to start after completion of the technical and financial assessment of the World Bank:

·

On June 5th, 2020, the government of Sint Maarten approved the budget for a project called “Fostering Resilient Learning”, which includes the rebuilding of the Sister Marie Laurence Primary School, one other elementary school and the library. The preparations for the process of rebuilding the school have almost finished and the tendering process is about to start.

·

The Sister Marie Laurence Primary School and the Charles Leopold Bell Primary School are the two schools for which the budget to rebuild has now been approved.

·

It is expected that the School rebuild tender process will start shortly after completion the technical assessment by the World Bank for aspects of safety, environment, sustainability and costs.

·

On Monday 1st March 2021, there was a delegation that visited the vacant school building of the Sister Marie Laurence Primary School.

o

Besides the representatives of the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten and the Foundation Catholic Education St. Maarten, this delegation consisted of various representatives of the NRPB (National Recovery Programme Bureau),  representatives of the Dutch government in Philipsburg and representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and last but certainly not least, 2 members of the Steering Committee, namely Mr. Frans Weekers (the Dutch counterpart) and Mr. Marcel Gumbs (the local counterpart).

o

The third and last remaining member of the Steering Committee (the World Bank counterpart) already visited the school facility during a previous engagement. With the visit of Frans Weekers, the entire team of the Steering Committee has now visited the school and has received an explanation of the vision and viewed visuals of the plans for the Exceptional School - Sister Marie Laurence, including the contributions and assistance received via the Rotary Global Grant.

o

All attending members of the delegation showed great enthusiasm for the project, and as a collaborative group we are all looking forward to the construction to commence during this calendar year 2021.

o

The drawings of the proposed building have been reviewed by the technical team of the World Bank and has been approved except for one small change that was proposed to include a ramp in the stairway sections to ensure that handicap ramps and accessibility have sufficiently been taken care of.

o

One exercise that is pending and which will commence in the very near future is the re-analysis of the costs of construction of the building as the quote was from 2018/2019. 

o

The expectation is that the demolition would start in September 2021.

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3. Training and education: The first Training had been completed for 13 teachers and staff members of the School in October 2019.

·

In the weeks of 14th and 21st October 2019 the first CPC Training session have been done for the teachers. Costs and Expenses of the Vocational Training Team (1 person traveling to Sint Maarten) have been approved by TRF and have been paid from the Global Grant. This was the first payment from the Global Grant of in total 5,586 USD.

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Sincerely,

Tanja Frederiks-Vliegen

Financial Manager/Project Manager

Foundation Catholic Education St. Maarten

A.J.C. Brouwers Road 6, Philipsburg, St. Maarten

John Caputo

Past President Rotary Club Sint Maarten

Project coordinator for the project Exceptional School

Gert-Jan van Dommelen

President Rotary Club Huizen Gooimeer

Coordinator on behalf of the International Sponsor Rotary Clubs participating in the Global Grant.

Appendix: The Exceptional School project

This project is to restore inclusive education on Sint Maarten and it is also a great opportunity for the community of Middle Region and for the children to get a new perspective for social and economic development. It is about hope, energy and collaboration to make a better future. While safeguarding transparency, fairness and sustainability in all aspects, this is about passion for the people that need this.

We have designed a school that will be future proof taking into mind several key thoughts and aspects.  The classroom design and layout will be complimentary to the "Exceptional Education" format that the school will pilot; this transformation being a major part of the Global Grant. We also have added a parent's room, where parents can come and use a computer, internet, printer, etc. with the hope that they will be a more active participant in the school.  A community room will allow the Community Council to meet and host events for the overall betterment of the neighborhood as a whole. The school and the outside area will be a multi-functional center and will also serve as hurricane shelter for the community of Middle Region. The Sister Marie Laurence School is designed as a ‘hurricane resistant’ building.

The plan is to create a school and surrounding that is the heart of this depressed neighborhood and an environment that the population will protect and have pride in rather than loot and further damage like what happened after the passing of Irma and Maria. The schools are more than just educational buildings, they also represent central meeting points and are catalyst of higher quality of life in the Antillean districts. 

 

There has been great support and excitement from the teachers as well as the parents.  We had community briefings where we informed of the progress and the future plans were unveiled and discussed.

The twelve Participating Rotary Clubs are:

1.

Hosting Sponsor Club Sint Maarten (District 7020)

2.

Coordinating International Sponsor Club Huizen Gooimeer (NL, District 1570)

3.

International Sponsor Club Eindhoven Zuid (NL, District 1550)

4.

International Sponsor Club Wuppertal (Germany, District 1810)

5.

International Sponsor Club Arendonk (Belgium, District 1630-10)

6.

International Sponsor Club Bodegraven (NL, District 1570)

7.

International Sponsor Club Wall Street (New York USA, District 7230)

8.

International Sponsor Club Singer Island (Florida USA, District 6930)

9.

International Sponsor Club St. Catharines (Canada, District 7090)

10.

International Sponsor Club St. Catharines-Lakeshore (Canada, District 7090)

11.

International Sponsor Club Niagara Falls (Canada, District 7090)

12.

International Sponsor Club Waterdown (Canada, District 7090).

The children of Sister Marie Laurence

Since September 2018, the children of the Sister Marie Laurence have been distributed over two other schools, see below. Although difficult because of limited space, long travel times for children and parents, the relocation was possible because many children left the island after hurricane Irma (about 75 children from the Sister Marie Laurence school), however these children now return to Sint Maarten and there is a high need for the new school.

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The children of group 1-6 located at the St. Dominic Primary School

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The children of group 7-8 located at the Sister Magda Primary School (Dutch lessons)