Tynwald has unanimously approved the spending of £756,800 on new dining facilities at Queen Elizabeth II High School in Peel.
But some members expressed concern about the size of the design fees and why kitchen facilities were needed given the school catering services are being centralised.
Education Minister Tim Crookall MHK explained that the current kitchen and dining hall were designed for a school role of 450 to 500 and have largely remained unaltered since the school opened in 1979. QEII now has a roll of around 850.
He told court: ‘Without this scheme progressing, dining would continue within inadequate facilities, with students being pressured to eat their lunch quickly, or take out to eat elsewhere.’
Following the Tynwald vote, construction work on a new enlarged dining hall, to cater for 222 covers per sitting, up from the present 128, will begin this month with overall completion of the scheme by August next year. There will be a new servery and new fully equipped kitchen.
Mr Crookall said the department proposed to enter into contract with McArd Contractors. Total cost is £834,700 but Tynwald has previously approved £77,900 for pre-contract and enabling works.
Liberal Vannin leader Kate Beecroft (Douglas South) questioned the size of professional fees which she said seemed to be a high percentage of construction costs. A total of £146,723 is for professional fees, site investigations, insurance, building regulation fees, furniture, fittings, feasibility fees and site supervision.
Treasury member Phil Braidwood MLC said one reason for the higher fees was that the project was ‘fragmented’ into four schemes, but added: ‘We have negotiated the fees down.’
Michael MHK Alfred Cannan said: ‘My understanding is catering services were being centralised. Why are we developing the kitchens in such a way?’
Mr Crookall replied that preparation and cooking will still be carried out on site, ‘hence the need for new and better equipment’.