5 Dec. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Breaking down $384 million in education spending. Mosley-Matchett named UCCI’s interim President and CEO. EdBeat panel discussion on university’s leadership change. Nonprofit profile of Connect by Nova. Viewpoint on Barbados’ break with British monarchy.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Week In Review
The PACT government is proposing the largest education budget in Cayman Islands history, planning to spend nearly $385 million over the next two years on people, buildings, school meals, scholarships, grants and a raft of programmes.
This week we began looking at the budget from a few different angles.
Before we dive into the numbers, we’ll point out a couple of things that readers should consider:
First, it’s not easy to compare total spending on education to previous years. That’s partly because ministry reshufflings occur after (and sometimes between) elections. For example, under the new PACT government, the Ministry of Education was made a standalone entity. Previously, it was part of the Ministry for Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands. (The numbers we use are either in the 2022-2023 budget documents, or in the Auditor General’s 2019 report on education spending.)
Second, ‘total government spending on education’ can be separated into the a few separate buckets, including operating expenses, capital projects and transfer payments (to other public or private entities). The big number — $384 million — includes all of the appropriations flowing into and through the Ministry of Education over the next two years.
For the year 2021, the government estimated it will spend about $181 million total on education. That means the annual spending on education for 2022 and 2023 is expected to increase by about 6%.
Excluding capital projects and transfer payments, the operating budget for the Ministry of Education is $106 million in 2021, $112 million in 2022 and $120 million in 2023.
For context, the government spent $86 million on education in 2018 and $95 million in 2019, according to the Auditor General.
In total, the two-year combined operating budget of $232 million accounts for about 12% of core government spending.
On top of operating expenses, the budget calls for $74 million for capital projects — including $35 million for the new John Gray High School project and $34 million for other schools (such as Theoline McCoy Primary, Joanna Clark Primary, Layman Scott High and the Lighthouse School).
This so-called ‘equity investment’ accounts for more than 19% of the ministry’s spending.
The government is budgeting $72 million to run public primary schools and $69 million for public secondary schools.
A new big-ticket item is the free school meals programme, which will account for about 6% of government’s education spending over the next two years.
As the programme expands to cover all public primary and secondary schools, the meals are expected to cost about $3 million in fall 2021, more than $7 million in 2022 and $15 million in 2023.
The government’s ‘purchase agreements’ detail 12 vendors who will be paid to provide the meals. Vendors include private companies as well as schools’ Parent Teacher Associations.
Catering company Mise en Place tops the list of vendors, with a projected cost of nearly $6 million in 2023. That comprises nearly 40% of that year’s budget for the programme, which corresponds to the company providing meals to about 40% of students.
Vendors will be paid according to how many meals they actually serve.
The purchase agreements set a maximum total amount that vendors can charge the government, and include standard prices for breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks.
The budget for primary schools is $4 for breakfast, $5 for lunch, $3 for snack and $4 for two drinks. Prices are the same for the Lighthouse School, except lunch is $5.50.
For secondary schools, the budget is $4 for breakfast, $7 for lunch, $2 for snack and $4 for two drinks.
(Read our initial story on the $384 million in planned education spending here.)
(Read our analysis of the budget, and see our searchable and sortable table of ministry appropriations, here.)
(Read our analysis of spending on free school meals, and see the list of vendors, here.)
Editor’s Note: Next week we’ll publish an analysis of the planned $4 million in government grants to local private schools. Stay tuned …
J.D. Mosley-Matchett has been named the Interim Acting President and CEO of the University College of the Cayman Islands.
Mosley-Matchett joined the university in 2009 and is currently UCCI’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. She holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration, a JD, an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology.
If you’re interesting in learning more about Mosley-Matchett, we had her and outgoing UCCI President and CEO Stacy McAfee on EdBeat in late October to talk about the university’s accomplishments and plans.
We also talked to Mosley-Matchett back in January about the university’s bid to be accredited by the US Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
(Read the announcement of Mosley-Matchett’s appointment here.)
International College of the Cayman Islands President Byron Coon and former UCCI board member Thomas Simpson joined Patrick Brendel of the Cayman Current to talk about the process for recruiting and hiring the next President and CEO of UCCI.
One important point of discussion is that McAfee had a 3-year contract with the option for a second 3-year contract. Her hiring and the length of the two contracts coincided with the duration of the 5-year strategic plan for UCCI. One of her first actions as UCCI leader was to help finalise that 5-year plan.
Something to think about: In terms of the future of UCCI, does McAfee’s departure signal that, in the view of the government and/or UCCI board, she was unable to successfully execute the 5-year plan? Or is the intent to revisit the plan itself, and possibly overhaul it or adopt a new plan under a new university leader?
(Watch EdBeat: Episode 25 here.)
Our journalist Kayla Young sat down with career consultant Hannah Jackson to talk about Connect by Nova, the nonprofit organisation Jackson co-founded.
“Empowering young Caymanians to see all these different career paths is one thing, but also providing them with resources so that they can actually [pursue] the viable career options is something else,” Jackson said.
“What Connect can offer is that we work with recruiters and companies, and we have those relationships with the private sector and public sector, seeing what’s really in demand in the labor market.”
(Read our nonprofit profile on Connect, and watch a video featuring Jackson here.)
***Editor’s Note: Young did this profile on Connect as she was interviewing Jackson for our mini-documentary series on TVET and STEM education in Cayman. We have nearly finished all of the filming for the series, and are moving on to the next stages of the production process. More updates to come as we get closer to the series’ release.***
More from the Current
- Smith: No more loitering on colonial premises – Barbados becoming a Republic
- 2021 Top Primary & Secondary School Spellers Selected
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Jamaica Gleaner: Technology-based learning here to stay, says Williams
The Week Ahead
- Private school funding in the 2022-2023 government budget
- Data monitoring on public school student laptops
- EdBeat: Episode 26
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