Education Department to shutter Guy Benjamin School


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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Education Department is shutting down Guy Benjamin Elementary School in Coral Bay, St. John.

V.I. Education Commissioner Donna Frett-Gregory announced Monday evening that the department decided to combine St. John's only two public elementary schools as a cost-saving measure.

The students expected to attend Guy Benjamin next year will be transferred cross-island to Julius Sprauve School in Cruz Bay.

"This was a difficult decision, it is not a decision we came to lightly," Frett-Gregory said in a prepared statement.

Guy Benjamin's population dropped from more than 100 students in the 2011-2012 school year to 88 students at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, according to Frett-Gregory. The 2013-2014 enrollment reached a low of 57 students.

Because of the low numbers, both the kindergarten and first grade classes - with 10 and nine students, respectively - were moved over to Sprauve during the current school year.

Even if those 19 students returned to Guy Benjamin, the enrollment, which is now at 57 students, would only increase to 76 students for the new school year.

Continuing to operate the school with such low numbers, is not efficient, Frett-Gregory said.

"Consolidating school campuses is always a difficult decision but we are fortunate on the island of St. John to have an outstanding option at Julius E. Sprauve School, with many teachers, fellow students, and a principal that the students are already familiar with," Frett-Gregory said.

The department's announcement did not come with an explanation as to how the change will affect staffing, transportation and funding.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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