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Cost overruns become hot topic

Thousands of dollars in cost overruns for infrastructure works at the Alexandra School became a controversial topic today at the Commission of Enquiry probing happenings at the education institution. This was after chairman of the school’s board of management, Keith Simmons, QC, was asked to respond to a statement from Principal Jeff Broomes that a contractor was owed $63,000 for work there. It was a point made in the principal’s statement to the commission, excerpts of which were read to Simmons by the tribunal’s senior counsel Milton Pierce when the chairman gave evidence for a second straight day at the Wildey Gymnasium In his statement the principal alleged that Simmons had facilitated the entry of a contractor on to Alexandra’s premises without his knowledge, and that a contractor was owed the above sum for work done at the school. In response, Simmons said he was unaware of the circumstances which the principal was referring to, but said he knew that infrastructural improvements approved by the Ministry of Education at the St. Peter property had incurred more than $100,000 in cost overruns. He claimed that Broomes had contributed to the problem by allegedly giving approval for work to be extended. “The Ministry of Education allowed us (the board) to repair the school. People submitted tenders, according to the rules, the board, including the principal, okayed the contractor… It went through the board and the principal told the man what to do and extended the contract,” he testified. “I spoke to the Minister (of Education) and said ‘Listen this contract has overrun’ and he said to me ‘Surcharge him!’, and I said ‘Mr. Minister, what is surcharge? Everything went through the board. “The decision was to move from the front (of the school) and come inside and at a certain point we stopped. What happened is when the contractor submitted I realised that he had overrun $100,000, it was more than $63,000, but the secretary treasurer paid $10,000 towards the overruns,” he added. Commissioner Frederick Waterman said a determination would have to be made if this information related to his terms of reference, and hence was relevant to the commission’s work and recommendations. (SC)

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