DOE gets major federal funding - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DOE gets major federal funding

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - Despite not having a third-party fiduciary agent in place, the Department of Education was able to secure a half of the federal funding that they have been waiting for the U.S. Department of Education to release.

"Obviously, they have a certain level of confidence," stated DOE Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood after receiving some good news from her federal counterparts.  She learned that her agency was approved $12.2 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, half of which she says DOE can begin spending immediately.

The feds withheld the release of any funds unless a third-party fiduciary agent was hired.  Said Underwood, "This is actually a supplement to our consolidated grant and what's good about this is that we can start utilizing the ARRA grant even though the 3rd party fiduciary agent if not here yet."

Underwood says the $6.1 awarded today will go toward programs to improve technology in DOE, such as professional development for teachers, English as a second language, student achievement, and anti-bullying efforts.  "This is really going to come at a very timely basis because we also have plans to convert George Washington [High School] to a magnet school for science technology, engineering and mathematics," she said.

The education chief says she doesn't expect the remainder of the ARRA grant for several more months, adding that DOE still won't be granted the just over $23 million in consolidated grants until an agent is put in place. Underwood says the final request for proposal is being reviewed at the Attorney General's Office.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo today announced $10.8 million worth of low interest bonds were released from the Department of the Treasury for school construction on Guam.  "That's news that we didn't expect. We actually applied for about $30-35 million worth of stimulus funds that's going to go for the maintenance of our schools and capital improvement projects," she said.

Committee Chair on Education Speaker Judi Won Pat says the funds can be used to fix deficiencies in the schools or even finance a new JFK High School.  "In order to do that would mean we would need to repeal the current legislation for the JFK. The other would be the request to rehabilitate GW and some of the other schools as well, and then there's the future where we're talking about the need for additional schools, and if there aren't lands for it that the money can be used," she said.

However, Underwood admits the funding does not put them in the clear just yet as they are still awaiting the approval of a $41.3 million supplemental budget request from the Guam Legislature.  "The supplemental request had to do with textbooks, had to do with additional personnel and so at this point these are curricular programs that we are supporting," she noted.

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