New high school could be coming to Harmon - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

New high school could be coming to Harmon

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - While delays continue on the construction of the new John F. Kennedy High School, legislation has been introduced to move another delayed project to build a new northern high school forward.  It's another public school project that's been sitting on the back burner for the past few years.  

Speaker Judi Won Pat introduced legislation that would move the finance, design construction and maintenance of the new facility forward. Won Pat says Bill 413 would use the qualified school construction bonds, which are American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds to prevent the Government of Guam from creating anymore debt.  "In order to maximize these monies that are coming in the $20 million to build the northern school, this will pay for the interest," she said.

What that means, Won Pat says, is that the federal funds must be earmarked for the project by the end of September. The problem before was that the project was supposed to be constructed in the Marbo area, the same property that the military has been eyeing for the buildup.

But today Won Pat says they think they might have found alternative, as they are now eyeing the property between the Dededo Sports Complex and Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School. Department of Education Finance Deputy Superintendent Taling Taitano said, "We think would make good sense for a high school because they can take advantage of the soccer fields the swimming pools that going up there's a gym there."

The measure also taps $4.8 million per year in Section 30 revenue to cover the leaseback period.  While some officials are confident with this particular site being the location for the new northern high school, concerns remain as the Department of Public Works' bus satellite and the Guam Power Authority's Macheche Substation remain on the property.

But Taitano says they will have to resolve those issues with the GovGuam agencies as DOE is mandated by law to make more school facilities, adding, "There's a public law that states that all high schools should be built to house about 1,200 kids, and right now GW's enrollment was 2,700, JFK's was over 2,000 and so the addition of the new school will be much welcomed.  Even with that addition, we believe that at least one more high school will be necessary."

While Taitano anticipates the new northern school to be completed in time for the 2012 school year (since the request for proposal process is set), she and Speaker Won Pat want to assure the JFK High community that the new school does not trump plans to give the Islanders a new facility, as well.  "JFK is going to stay," reassured the latter.  "We're not touching that at all - that continues as is. We're using the same language, the same format, we're going out and getting the bond and do a lease back with a company that's going to upfront the monies."

 DOE has said that the new school will be similar to the Okkodo High School facility.

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