Ground was broken on Thursday (July 1) for the construction of the Hampton Preparatory School in Belle Air, Runaway Bay, St. Ann.
Member of Parliament for North West St. Ann, Othneil Lawrence (left) participate in the ground breaking exercise for the new Hampton Preparatory School in Runaway Bay, St. Ann on Thursday (July 1). Also participating in the exercise is Founder/Director of Hampton Prep, Sheryl White-McDowell (centre) and her son, Rashidi Thomas. The school is estimated to cost some $30 million.
The school is estimated to cost some $30 million, and is being funded through private investments. It is being built on nearly 60,000 square feet of land purchased from the Ministry of Water and Housing, through the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ).
Member of Parliament for North West St. Ann, Othniel Lawrence, read a statement from Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, which noted that the school would become part of the expansion of the Belle Air community to improve the lives of residents.
Dr. Chang said that in providing this land for the school, the Ministry is continuing to live up to its motto of “Building Communities, Improving lives”.
He said that the HAJ will be seeking to develop the Belle Air property as a model community later this year, and that he was pleased that the development had reached the stage of the groundbreaking for the prep school.
“We will also be moving to complete the outstanding and much needed infrastructure work for the existing development, and upgrade the lots now occupied by informal settlers. The entire scheme will also be provided with a central sewage treatment plant and adequate supplies of water and electricity,” Dr. Chang said.
Mr. Lawrence told JIS News that the building of the school was part of a major development plan for the area, which would include some 2,000 houses to be built with the help of the Chinese government. He said that construction will start later this year. Construction of the Prep School should start in October.
According to Mr. Lawrence, the owners of Hampton Prep, now housed at the Salem Baptist Church, had been waiting some 15 years for land to build a new, expanded institution, until 2008 when he was able to get the Ministry’s support in terms of the provision of the land.
Founder/Director of Hampton Preparatory, Sheryl White-McDowell, said that the school will be designed to accommodate a maximum 270 day students and a similar number of evening students.
The plans are to have a kindergarten department to accommodate a maximum of 90 students, six classrooms from grades one to six, a computer lab, library, canteen, staff room and administrative offices. There will be music and creative arts room and a playing field, Mrs. McDowell explained.
She added that the intention of the school administrators is to offer the facilities to the wider community, to facilitate evening classes for persons who wish to sit CXCs, attend remedial classes or access after care for children aged three to five years.