DOE falling apart at the seams - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DOE falling apart at the seams

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by Michele Catahay

The Department of Education's facilities are literally falling apart at the seams. Apparently things will continue to be in disrepair as the agency lacks the resources to have them fixed which could lead to a shut down of campuses yet again.

DOE has submitted more than 500 work requests to the General Services Agency in the last two months.  Acting Facilities and Maintenance Manager Billy Cruz says purchase orders are coming in slowly and the paperwork keeps piling up, saying, "If we don't start addressing this, we're not going to be able to catch this load. Are we waiting for the regulatory agencies and the suruhanu to come in and inspect the schools again and look how dilapidated they are? I don't think we should be waiting for that."

On Monday, we showed you a leak in the boy's shower room at Southern High School in Santa Rita, which has been spewing out water day and night for more than a month.  Cruz submitted numerous requests since early September and even tried working with the GSA to ensure the department receives the necessary supplies not only for southern but other campuses.

"Those purchase orders were needed to do some minor repairs within the Guam Department of Education and we've yet to receive any purchase orders from GSA for materials to fix little stuff out in the schools," Cruz added.

With the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Administration and the Bureau of Budget Management & Research, the department will be able to upload its allotment releases - something DOE Deputy Superintendent in Charge of Finance and Administrative Services Taling Taitano says should speed up the process, for now, they're only processing emergency requests.

She said, "I think an emergency would be something that would be, if the safety or the health of the children are jeopardized, that would be something that we would consider, an emergency."

But Cruz warns that many of the projects will eventually become an emergency as the facilities continue to fall apart, noting, "It's frustrating. It's overwhelming for me. I don't have the staff to top it off. If you only have six plumbers to handle 40 schools, how do you do that? So I think we should get the materials necessary immediately."

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