Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull, second district representative, and David Butcher from AEC Consulting Engineering Ltd. sign a contract for the construction of a new Jost Van Dyke primary school. (Photo: SCREENSHOT)

There will be a new primary school in Jost Van Dyke following a contract signing ceremony for the design of the school on Monday.

The amount of the contract was not disclosed during the ceremony, where several government officials attended and spoke.

Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries, and Agriculture Dr. Natalio Wheatley made opening remarks at the ceremony, pledging to the people of Jost Van Dyke that the completion of the school holds importance.

“To me, this is priority number one in the education system right now. So we will get it done for you,” he said.

He said government did studies, walkthroughs, met with the community, and evaluated the circumstances in order to choose the hillside above Great Harbour as “the best place for the school.”

Flooding issues were a concern had the school been built on the flats, Dr. Wheatley added.

There will also be a recreational space, he added.

“We have what we need now to get the process rolling,” he said, thanking several donors for their generosity towards the project. He didn’t name all the donors.

Second district representative Mitch Turnbull wondered why the territorial song was omitted during the ceremony while recognizing that it was “an important day” and “another step in the right direction.”

“This is the only school on the island of Jost Van Dyke and to have it in this condition for the excess of three years, it is unacceptable,” he said. “I am happy to see that the government has agreed and come inline with the people to have the school on the hillside to avoid some of the issues we’ve been having here in Jost Van Dyke.”

The design of the school will mirror the Enis Adams Primary School on Tortola, he said, adding that his primary concern since 2017 has been to rebuild the school.

Premier Andrew Fahie and David Butcher of AEC Consulting Engineering Ltd. both signed the contract with Dr. Wheatley and Mr. Turnbull as witnesses.

Mr. Butcher later said that “education is the bedrock of any developing and developed society” and that AEC Consulting Engineering Ltd. looks forward to completing the project to enhance the education on the island of JVD.