Recovery and Development Agency acting CEO Anthony McMaster (right) and two representatives from Quality Construction attended a handover on Friday at the Bregado Flax Educational Centre Secondary Division in Virgin Gorda. (Screenshot:GIS)

Students and faculty celebrated a milestone during the handover of three buildings on Sept. 18 at Bregado Flax Educational Centre Secondary Division in Virgin Gorda.

The reconstruction and refurbishment of the buildings has been in the works ever since the school was devasted by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Principal Hilroy George said BFEC was in “really bad shape” even before the storm, which he said did the sister island a favour by paving the way for new facilities.

“We now actually have wonderful offices, beautiful classrooms, nice labs, clean bathrooms, and a staff lounge that is so comfortable,” Mr. George said.

Recovery and Development Agency acting CEO Anthony McMaster said the $3 million project fell under the RDA shortly after the pandemic began.

“It was one year and a few months ago, on May 1, 2020 — coming out of the lockdowns — that RDA had the opportunity to find ways to kickstart the economy,” he said, speaking about how Premier Andrew Fahie pushed construction projects at the time with the help of the Recovery and Redevelopment Loan from the Caribbean Development Bank.

The designs for the school were carried out by Jose de Castro and Chris Conway of CSE Engineering Designs.

And with the help of funding from the CDB loan, $1.8 million was awarded to Quality Construction for the refurbishment of the school last year.

“This finished product represents your foundation to economic development to the BVI and to yourselves,” Mr. McMaster told the students.

He added that works on Elmore Stoutt High School facilities are beginning and that tenders may go out as early as next week.

The premier and a few ministers also attended the ceremony.

Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley touted BFEC’s grid-tie solar system.

He also promised that air conditioning units will be added to some classrooms and that a second campus will eventually be added.

Mr. Wheatley asked students to take care of the buildings, and said he hopes to see some landscaping done around the area soon.

Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio

“Sowande” Wheatley, who is the minister of education, promised that education challenges will be confronted on other sister islands as well.

The premier also spoke about the JVD Primary School, which has recently been criticised for hazardous conditions including exposed electrical wires and circuits, mould, and a lack of electricity.

Temporary measures, he said, are being put in place there while a new school is out for tender. “We want to learn from our mistakes there in Jost Van Dyke and never let it happen again,” he said. “We have gotten better by improving the BFEC Secondary Division.”