A NEW junior college (JC) slated to be completed in 2018 had to be delayed because of transport infrastructure being built underneath it, the Ministry of Education (MOE) learnt in 2013.
In a letter to parents yesterday, the second it has sent about the delay, MOE said it was told this when the Land Transport Authority (LTA) wrote to it that year.
MOE will hold a dialogue with parents of affected students on May 25.
It said it went ahead with the JC as planned anyway, as it had assessed the impact of the transport project "could be mitigated".
But late last year, LTA informed MOE that the transport project would be more extensive and would cut across a larger portion of the new JC's site.
"This meant that the construction of the new JC campus would have to be done over underground infrastructure, which posed new engineering challenges and increased the complexity of the project," as written in the letter.
The ministry had also underestimated the extent of the pre-construction works required for the new JC, which would be the first high-rise JC here, the letter said.
With these factors, the construction timeline was revised from mid-2018 to end-2019, and parents and students were informed on April 13.
Yesterday, MOE said the delay was "not desirable", but having both projects on the same site "ensures better use of our limited land resources".
The as-yet unnamed JC, to be sited at the junction of Sin Ming Avenue and Marymount Road, will take in mainly Integrated Programme (IP) students from Catholic High, St Nicholas Girls' and Singapore Chinese Girls' schools.
Those in the IP go straight to JC without sitting the O levels. The JC will take its first students in 2017 at an interim site, while the campus is built.
In its first letter last month, MOE also said the interim site had to be moved from the old Institute of Technical Education (ITE) campus in Bishan to the old Raffles Junior College (RJC) location at Mount Sinai. The ITE site is being used by St Joseph's Institution (SJI) while its own Malcolm Road campus is being rebuilt. That construction too has been delayed.
MOE said yesterday that some parents had asked to move the SJI students from the site, so students of the new JC can use it.
But this was not feasible, the letter said, as it would be "extremely disruptive" for SJI students to have to move twice - out of Bishan next year and into their own campus the year after.
MOE also explained it had chosen the old RJC campus as the new interim site over the former ITE College West at Ang Mo Kio - another suggestion by parents as it is nearer the three feeder schools - because the ITE campus lacked key facilities such as lecture theatres and laboratories. The canteen is small and it lacks adequate sports facilities. These facilities are already in place at the old RJC, the letter said.
Despite the latest communication, some parents are still upset that their children will not get a chance to be on the new campus.
Retiree Andrew Ng, 48, whose two sons are in Catholic High, said: "What MOE is saying still feels like an excuse.
"They've got to do what is right. If they've promised the school will be ready in 2018, they have to deliver it." He said he intends to attend the dialogue.