Guam will open first charter school in 2011 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guam will open first charter school in 2011

by Nick Delgado

Guam - The official award was announced that the National Institute for Direct Instruction has been granted its application to host the island's first charter school.  It will be called the Guahan Academy Charter School, with coordinator Dr. Donna Dwiggins telling KUAM News, "This is historic, this is groundbreaking, and this is really an opportunity to try something innovative as much as possible without the bureaucratic constraints that we usually have within the Department of Education."  

Dr. Dwiggins says the NIFDI will be finalizing their request for a federal grant by the end of this month that will help them get the school up and running.  She says the biggest hurdle will be securing a facility to host the anticipated 400 students, adding that they have some sites in mind.  "One is the site near JFK, which is owned by Core Tech, and there are other barracks that can be renovated, they have the template down for that, so we are expecting to get a proposal from that on the numbers and what it would cost to go into one of their buildings next to JFK. We've also approached the Pangelinans, in terms of the properties that they own."

Dwiggins says the new facility will have about 20 classrooms.  But just who will be  allowed to attend the  new charter school?

She explained, "It's a public school and operated with public funds so the other advantage is that because it's a public school, we will serve any child islandwide, and it doesn't matter where you're living."

She adds the curriculum includes an intensive literacy academy that will help the students progress from each grade level. The charter school will host students from kindergarten through 12th grade, and will include longer instructional days.  "So there will be more time available to teach the other content areas and the arts and music," she promised.

While Dwiggins says they will be hosting parent meetings through village mayors so the community can learn more about the charter school. Charter council chairperson Rosa Palomo says it's been a long process to approve NIFDI's application, adding they are expecting to review more applicants before the end of this month.  "There have been two individuals who have expressed interest, and so we're just now waiting for them to submit their application," she said.

In the meantime, officials are confident that Guam will have its first charter school ready to operate for all public school students in time for School Year 2011.

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