Education Facilities Master Plan Completed in U.S. Virgin Islands

During a July 7 press conference, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. announced the completion of the education facilities master plan for the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education. DLR Group developed the master plan following a six-month, community-based process to engage government officials, stakeholders, patrons, educational leaders, teachers, students, parents, and industry partners. DLR Group is partnered with Witt O’Brien’s, a leader in crisis and emergency management.

DLR Group working session with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education. Photo © DLR Group.

“Today is a good day as we celebrate a major milestone, especially in the department of education. It gives me great pride and a real sense of accomplishment to launch our education schools facilities master plan,” said Governor Bryan. “Education is the main driver in what a Virgin Islander will do for years to come, and we want to make sure we have schools that are not only equipped with the technology to power that, but with an atmosphere of warmth where teachers, students, administrators, and parents can come together and prepare the Virgin Islands children for a very bright future.”

The master plan serves as a framework for future decision-making related to the reinvention of education and educational facilities in St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. It provides an avenue to improve learning environments for the territory’s 10,000 students. The Virgin Islands continue to recover three years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused catastrophic damage across the territory in 2017, including destruction to multiple schools and educational support facilities. Additionally, at more than 40 years old, many of the schools in the Virgin Islands are outdated and do not meet today’s educational standards. The master plan calls for a reduction of facilities from 32 to 18 and a shift to a programming model of grades Pre-K-8 and 9-12 to ensure equity between the islands and the schools. Six schools will be constructed and 12 will receive modernizations and/or expansions, and all learning environments will be updated to support future-ready learning.

“The completion of the master plan is the first step toward defining how facilities can make a difference in the lives of every learner in the Virgin Islands, said DLR Group Principal Pam Loeffelman, FAIA. “There is tremendous anticipation to see the community’s vision become reality in the coming years, and we look forward to moving on to the next stage of development.”

Funding for school modernizations and new construction outlined in the master plan will be provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency as defined by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and will be confirmed in the next six to 12 months.

Following a successful master planning effort, DLR Group has been retained to complete design documents for the first five projects prioritized in the master plan. These bridging documents will directly integrate ideas from the master plan and will be issued as part of the request for proposals for design/build teams. Design and construction of new and modernized schools will be phased with a target completion date of 2025.