DOE looking at options for funding issues - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DOE looking at options for funding issues

by Michele Catahay

Guam - It looks like power won't be going off this week for the island's public schools. Today, the Department of Education assured the Guam Power Authority that it would be able to pay its promissory note by Monday. The question is whether the agency will be able to stay afloat without much needed funds for operations and programs until the next fiscal year.

DOE has averted disconnections to its facilities this week. According to GPA Spokesperson Art Perez, DOE has made assurances with the utility agency that it would be able to pay its promissory note by the start of next week.  "The disconnection crews will head out and proceed to disconnecting the central office in Agana and move on to other locations for other DOE accounts will be disconnected," he explained.

GPA had given DOE until Thursday, but the notice of disconnection had been pushed back. According to DOE Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Administrative Services Taling Taitano, DOE has the cash and they're ready to cut the check, but they want to make sure the note is legally paid.

"I've gotten somewhat positive news from the Legislature," she stated. "I'm hoping there's a resolution we can work on, so it's not that we don't have to pay GPA or we don't have the money, we just want to make sure we have the right authorization to do so."

As for whether DOE would have necessary funds to run programs like DEED, the Direct Instruction program and the Success for All program, Taitano says they received word from the U.S. Department of Education that there's a possibility it could use American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds as a bridge for the consolidated grant.

DOE cannot draw down this grant until a third-party fiduciary agent is hired.  "We've gotten some positive feedback and we've asked for formal approval, so that once we get that, we can move forward and continue to supplement the programs like DEED and DI and SFA," said Taitano.

She does admit DOE only has enough funds to cover the end of August. She says if the department could access three percent of the reserve funding, they could stay afloat until October.

In the meantime, Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff Shawn Gumataotao says their hands are tied, telling KUAM News, "You can write letters but without authorization to spend, it will be the problem that they'll face. They've talked with the Administration constantly about getting help. The help clearly lies with the other branch of government - that is the Legislature. I think they're also working to address their problems."

Gumataotao says DOE has been falling behind in ensuring a third-party is put in place, saying, "As they claim that they are very close, they are nowhere closer than they were several months ago when they first started the negotiations. They have to very quickly to work on getting the TPF in place. They need to encourage the attorney general's office to see the urgency of getting a TPF in place."

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