USVI governor announces plans to get schools back on track

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Governor Kenneth Mapp

ST CROIX, USVI — While the assessment of damage and losses is still being completed for educational facilities across the US Virgin Islands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has qualified the USVI for $107 million in assistance for temporary classrooms for the 2018-19 school year, which begins on September 4, 2018.

Making the announcement at a Friday news conference, Governor Kenneth Mapp disclosed that, while 11 schools were condemned following last September’s storms, a selection of schools are now slated for summer repairs, others will receive temporary modular classrooms and a number will be demolished and rebuilt.

The governor noted $25 million from insurance claims will be spent on school repairs and temporary classrooms. Repairs are expected to be completed by the start of the academic year. At least two schools are slated for relocation.

“The United States Virgin Islands has an unprecedented opportunity to be restored and recover better than ever due to the support of the Trump administration, FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal partners,” Mapp stated.

The US Congress voted in February to amend the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, allowing for relief funds to be used to improve damaged infrastructure rather than to simply rebuild to pre-disaster conditions. Mapp said this change to federal law, for which he and his team lobbied, allows the territory to access an exceptional level of financial and technical assistance.

During the news conference, Mapp encouraged members of the Virgin Islands Legislature to work with his administration to implement a vision for a better Virgin Islands. He stated he had previously asked members for their input on how to spend discretionary relief funding, but that, to date, information had not been submitted.

“Although this is a political year … we really have to concentrate on working together for the betterment of the territory,” the governor said, who noted “we have a real opportunity to invest in the Virgin Islands.”

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