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DOE struggling to get funds

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - The certification of emergency for the Department of Education has the community concerned about whether schools will remain open for the remainder of the month. And the Guam Education Policy Board is stepping in to help DOE come up with a back up plan in the event they do not get the funds.

Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood and the GEPB will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow night to discuss the agency's financial crisis, of which board chairman Ron Ayuyu said, "We're in shortfall and we might close the school down, but that's not the issue there that closing down the school, we have to find some ways on how to keep the school open."

Ayuyu says the board is not in favor of closing schools, however, one of the options up for discussion is temporarily cutting some of DOE's personnel.  "That we need to really carefully take a look at it, and then we have to see what we can do, letting go employees is not the source," he explained.  

"We have been holding, done our hiring for the most part, only hiring teacher positions that were vacated over the year," Taling Taitano added.  Taitano, DOE's Deputy Superintendent of Finance, says operations have suffered for the past few weeks as they are looking at the options to get the funds. Aside from asking Adelup for the 3% reserve to help them get by, it was just yesterday the Governor's Office finally submitted the application for the $20 million that Guam is eligible for from the Education Job Fund.

However, Taitano reveals that the reserve should not have been taken in the first place.  "We recently received a reminder from Senator Ben Pangelinan that the Adequate Education Act states that BBMR should not hold any money.  Appropriations from the Department of Education that would prohibit us from meeting the Adequate Education Act," she noted.

She additionally says they will pursue that argument, as DOE makes it plea to the Guam Legislature and the Governor's Office for the funds.  "I hope the Legislature and the governor can help the DOE because I know we are right at the end of Fiscal Year 2010 and we are going to be short one pay period," Taitano concluded.

The emergency board meeting is scheduled for 6pm tomorrow.

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