6 Feb. 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
The majority of the UCCI Board wanted to renew the contract of President and CEO Stacy McAfee before her departure. The Central Planning Authority has declined to enforce a rule on preserving space for schools in large subdivisions.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
Before the departure of then-President and CEO Stacy McAfee from the University College of the Cayman Islands, the majority of members on UCCI’s Board of Governors supported renewing McAfee’s contract for another 3 years.
However, newly appointed Board Chairman Gilbert McLean said he had no objective evidence by which to judge McAfee’s performance. Faced with contractual deadlines and citing obligations under the Public Authorities Law, McLean and the Board offered McAfee a 6-month extension through June 2022, during which time they planned to advertise the position and allow Caymanians (and others) the opportunity to apply for the leadership role.
McAfee, meanwhile, expressed concerns about not receiving any salary increases during her tenure or potentially in the future, wondered whether the Board or Ministry of Education wanted her to continue, and “questioned whether she was being asked to hang on whilst the Board did its Process”, according to recently published minutes from UCCI Board meetings.
McAfee declined the Board’s offer of a 6-month extension, saying it was “not acceptable”.
Our story this week is a long one (clocking in at just above 2,000 words … which is about twice the length of this newsletter), and our information is limited to what appears in the official recordings of the Board meetings from March-December 2021. However, we urge you to read the story, and to read it closely, because this isn’t just about the reappointment or departure of a single individual, but the impact on the future of the Cayman Islands’ public university.
Here is a timeline of highlights from our story:
- 1 Jan. 2019 — McAfee begins her 3-year contract with an expiration date of 31 Dec. 2021, and an opportunity to renew for another 3 years based on her performance.
- March 2019 — UCCI Board approves 5-year strategic plan.
- 19 May 2021 — Final Board meeting under chairmanship of Mark Scotland.
- 31 May 2021– McAfee submits letter to Board’s Executive Committee — consisting of Scotland, Deputy Chair Shomari Scott and member Jared Awe — expressing her intention to continue at UCCI.
- 1 Sept. 2021 — PACT appoints 2 new voting members to the Board, including new Chair Gilbert McLean. Awe becomes Deputy Chair. Five of 7 voting members remain on Board.
- 27 Sept. 2021 — McLean holds first Board meeting to consider McAfee’s 31 May letter. Board has deadline of 30 Sept. to respond.
- 30 Sept. 2021 — Board sends McAfee offer to extend contract for 6 months, until 30 June 2022.
- 13 Oct. 2021 — ‘Special panel’ of Board (comprising new Board members) meet with McAfee. Board claims it has “little knowledge” of McAfee’s achievements. McAfee states that all returning Board members agreed with her vision for UCCI, except for the representative from the Ministry of Education.
- 18 Oct. 2021 — McAfee declines 6-month extension.
- 10 Nov. 2021 — A summary by McLean states: “A majority of members have made it clear that they support the reappointment of Dr McAfee and believe she has given a satisfactory performance in office. I, as the new Chairman, can make no assessment as I have only been in the position approximately sixty (60) days and have not seen any form of objective review of the President’s performance.”
- 1 Dec. 2021 — Board meets in regular session. It is noted that McAfee had ‘demitted’ her position 30 Nov. Board confirms the elevation of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs J.D. Mosley-Matchett to Acting President and CEO.
A final note, for now, is that the UCCI Board has received approval to outsource recruitment efforts for the new President and CEO. We haven’t seen any advertisements, but we’ll let you know when we do. We’ll continue reporting on this story this week and in the future. Stay tuned …
Did you know that a planning regulation has been on the books since at least 2005 that instructs developers to dedicate space for schools in large new subdivisions?
It’s true! Regulation 30 of the Development and Planning Regulations states that in new subdivisions:
- For every 400 families, a 3-acre site shall be reserved for a primary school, and
- For every 2,000 families, a 7-acre site shall be reserved for a secondary school.
However, on two occasions last year when the Department of Planning brought this regulation to the Central Planning Authority’s decision, the planning board declined to enforce the rule and instead generally deferred responsibility for the provision of education to the Cayman Islands government and/or local private school system.
(The CPA is, of course, a public entity.)
In June 2021, the board approved an application for a subdivision with 437 residential lots in Bodden Town, next to the existing Lookout Gardens development.
The board did not make the developer reserve space for a primary school, stating that “the provision of schools is the responsibility of Government or the private school sector”, according to minutes of the meeting.
In March 2021, the board similarly did not tell developer Ergun Berksoy to reserve space for a school in his mixed-use subdivision off Shamrock Road in Prospect, behind Red Bay Primary School and the Lighthouse School. (In this case, it’s unclear whether this subdivision would contain enough homes to cross the 400-family threshold.)
The board stated, “the need for another school site in the area would be subject to Government policy and the interest of the private school system.”
We’d like to take a moment to extend our best wishes to Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who recently concluded a stay in the Cayman Islands Hospital after contracting COVID-19.
We trust that the Minister is convalescing comfortably and hope that she keeps her spirits high as she returns to full health. (Or, better yet, that she’s already feeling 100%!)
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.)
- Cayman Compass ($): Two Cayman Prep students heading to Cambridge
- Cayman Compass ($): Education minister back home, in ‘good spirits’ after hospital stay
- BVI Beacon: New Elmore Stoutt High School designs unveiled
- The Guardian (UK): Up to 10,000 pupils in England missed whole autumn term last year, analysis finds
- The Guardian (UK): Move to improve education outcomes latest part of levelling-up plans
- The Guardian (UK): Schools should be ranked on exclusions as well as GCSEs, say experts
- Miami Herald ($): Accrediting agency scrutinized flagship universities, so GOP lawmakers want new process
- Jamaica Gleaner: UTech in limbo
The Week Ahead
- More from UCCI
- EdBeat: Episode 28