While Governor Felix Camacho decides whether to sign bill 224 into law to provide money for the Department of Education...Parents are fed up with the financial fiasco and all of the problems that are impacting their kids.
Annette Manibusan is a frustrated parent. She says, "I love my kids. It's frustrating to know that the school system is the way it is. And if worse comes to worse, I might have to pull them out and pay for their school and I don't want to have to go down that route." Manibusan is fed up with all the problems at the department of education -from the threats of school closures to the financial fiasco and the resignations and lack of books.
To help with DOE's shortfall, lawmakers passed bill 224 into law last night which would allow the department to use the remaining balance from its CIP bond proceeds to cover salaries and utilities. DOE Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood says the actual shortfall that was initially calculated has been reduced. She says, "The three days that would've been remaining work days for fiscal year 2009 is going to be allowed to move to fiscal year 2010 so we don't have to pay for it now and that is in the amount of 1.8 million. So in essence we have reduced the shortfall to under three million." Bretania Underwood says DOE would need to look at CIP projects to determine which ones can be pushed back so they can meet the shortfall.
The superintendent is also looking into a measure that would require the return of four million to the territorial education fund. Meanwhile today, the superintendent participated in a conference call with the U.S. Department of Education to get clarification. She says, "We were able to clarify some of the guidelines and the required information that they have. That will be another source of funding for us in addressing our school's capital improvement projects."
While DOE and lawmakers wait for the governor to sign the measure, parents remain frustrated. Joe Aguon whose nieces and nephews attend Benavente middle school says he's not quite sure where the money is going. He says "They need to budget their money. What they don't need to spend, hold it back. save it for when they need it most for the children." Within the last several weeks, DOE received resignation letters from controller Frances Danieli and Deputy Superintendent Giovanni Sgambelurri. Both individuals worked closely to handle DOE's finances. Jeanette Taijeron whose kids attend MU Lujan Elementary and Inarajan Middle says some changes need to be made to ensure they have the right people in the right positions. She says, "They need to find somebody who can do the job."