A family firm of Cuban builders has won a Pentagon contract to build a new school for the U.S. Navy at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The Miami Herald reports that Munilla Construction Management LLC of Miami has been selected for the $66 million job, to be complete by November 2018.
The 112,000-square-foot school, with space for 275 pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students, is one of the most expensive to be built by the Department of Defense—$240,000 per school child. The facility will replace the W.T. Sampson School—separate elementary and middle-high school campuses on the naval base.
"The current facilities are inadequate, undersized and do not accommodate our current student population," Capt. David Culpepper, NS Guantanamo Bay commanding officer says in a news release from the Navy. "The island has one school available for the children to attend, so it is imperative that we make the necessary upgrades for this aging facility. The quality of life for our residents and their families is of the utmost importance and the new school will provide a great opportunity for our children for many years."
The W.T. Sampson School first opened on Guantanamo Bay in 1931 and is the Defense Department's oldest school in the world. The existing facilities were built in 1975 and 1983, the Navy says. The air conditioning and ventilation systems are failing and all the doors open to the exterior, creating challenges in dealing with the humidity in Cuba.
"The current facility layout has some shortfalls that impact educational activities and some [Americans with Disabilities Act] criteria deficiencies as well," says Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Richer, public works officer at Guantanamo Bay. "Replacement is more economical than continued maintenance and repair of these aged facilities."
The new school will be built on the site of the existing elementary, which will be torn down. After construction is completed, the existing middle-high school will be razed.
The Navy says the new facility will contain movable partition walls to provide flexibility. Interior spaces will be outfitted and formatted for neighborhoods, learning studios, learning hubs, an information center, a computing center, science labs, a gymnasium, performance spaces, and commons/dining/food service.
There will also be supply areas, specialist rooms, an art room, a music room, a band room, a science lab, space for learning-impaired students, an occupational therapist/physical therapist space, career technical education space, counseling areas, storage, health offices, administrative offices, staff collaboration areas, and other required areas for a preK-12 school.