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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Gov’t to renovate 40 schools with $1.5 billion



Starting with Francisco Morales High School in Naranjito, $1.5 billion in renovation work will take place at 40 schools under the Innova Schools program.

By The Star Staff


Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and several government officials announced on Wednesday plans to invest $1.5 billion in federal funds to renew 40 schools on the island.


Joining the governor in the announcement at Francisco Morales High School in Naranjito were Education Secretary Yanira Raíces Vega; Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy Rivera; Infrastructure Financing Authority (AFI) Executive Director Eduardo Rivera Cruz; and Naranjito Mayor Orlando Ortiz Chevres.


Starting with the Francisco Morales school, renovation work will be done under the Innova Schools program.


“We have developed a long-term plan for the reconstruction, remodeling or new construction of school buildings, which will be known as Innova Schools,” said the governor, who was also accompanied by representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Office for the Improvement of Public Schools (OMEP). “The initial investment in this initiative is $1.5 billion, coming from FEMA funds, for 40 schools located in the seven educational regions that have been prioritized. It is important to note that most of the schools in Puerto Rico were built decades ago, which is why we had to invest in the [post-earthquake] repair of the short columns, since they do not comply with current building codes.”


The Education secretary indicated that the designs of more than a dozen of the schools in the Innova Schools program have already been evaluated and approved and that there has been participation from representatives of the school communities in the design processes.


“The project designers have been working with regional directors, principals, faculty, cafeteria staff, maintenance and other service areas to identify the needs of each school and ensure that the proposed designs respond to the specific needs of each community,” Raíces Vega said.


She also noted that the department has organized school meetings to publicize the designs as part of a direct contact exercise that is required by the FEMA grant as part of that participatory process.


The COR3 executive director pointed out meanwhile that “through the development of these reconstruction projects that have significant allocations of funds from FEMA, school infrastructure is being strengthened so that the school community has resilient places for its development.”


“The Innova Plan is the result of teamwork between the Department of Housing, FEMA and COR3,” Laboy Rivera said. “We reaffirm our commitment and will continue to support these efforts to maximize [the] use of funds until the last permanent project is completed.”


The mayor of Naranjito said he was “very happy with the remodeling work at Francisco Morales High School.”


“It is the first school to be remodeled under this initiative where the entire infrastructure will be improved, providing better facilities that will live up to the current demands in terms of the school environment,” Ortiz Chevres said. “In addition, consistent vocational courses will be added to our labor market that will undoubtedly capture the interest of the student body. Francisco Morales is known as La Vieja, but at the end of construction it will be known as La Vieja that is new.”

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1 Comment


William Rosa
William Rosa
Apr 18

It's really sad that Mr. Pierluisi and his team continuous to play with PR children future. Now, on an election year, suddenly, like a magician, Mr. Pierluisi pulls out $1.5 and announce that he's dedicating these funds to renovate schools across PR. What an example of an exemplary manager/governor concern with the wellbeing of the children under his custody; that these actions coincide with a general election process is not the point but sense of urgency assisting his people to have decent schools in 2 or 3 years from now or by the next election cycle.

Come on. This is too obvious Mr. Pierluisi et al; the Puerto Rican people know already who you are and what you haven't done…

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