$83 million going to Guam education - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

$83 million going to Guam education

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - After receiving word about the approval of some $12 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and funds just last week, the Guam Department of Education, along with other public educational facilities, was informed today about even more millions of dollars being put into their pockets.

$83 million is now available to Guam under ARRA. Governor's deputy chief of staff Shawn Gumataotao says the money will go towards approximately 664 projects in all public schools, the Guam Community College and the University of Guam.  He told KUAM News, "We're real excited about what this will bring to our kids - $750,000 to each elementary school for capital projects, $1.2 million to all our middle schools for capital projects, and about $1.5 million for our high schools for capital projects. It's the single largest infusion of capital into our schools in probably more than four decades."

Gumataotao says it's been a long six months working with the USDOE to ensure they had everything to implement the program. The projects include areas that have been continuously cited by the Health and Safety Task Force.  "It could be everything from non-skid stickers that'll go on staircases, make sure kids don't fall through, roofs, lights, windows and much of the ADA-compliant type of materials so all of our schools are compliant," Gumataotao added.

He adds that funds will also be used to modernize and build new facilities at UOG and GCC, the creation of the GovGuam Computer Aide Mass Appraisal System and for judiciary technology upgrades.

One thing Gumataotao says was considered but did not go through was using the funds for a new JFK High School, saying, "By being very fair in the process every school on Guam will get a chance to try this out, not just one school."

The funds will also pay for the third-party fiduciary agent required by USDOE. While Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood says the final RFP for the agent is being reviewed by the feds, she is also working on spending the $6.1 million in ARRA funds for various programs.

"We're moving ahead with implementing what we had noted to USDOE. Request for proposals are being developed for those items, plans are being put into place," she said.

In the meantime, the recent award will also provide more jobs likewise more funds will be coming as Guam is eligible for an additional $25 million this fall. In a news release from Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo today, she stated that the award presents a rare opportunity to modernize and improve the island's school facilities.

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