DOE has funds until October, says BBMR - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DOE has funds until October, says BBMR

by Michele Catahay

Guam - The Guam Education Policy board grilled management at the Department of Education during an emergency meeting held last night. DOE will be able to avert a shut down of public schools on Monday after the Bureau of Budget & Management Research on Friday had said the agency has enough money to last through September.

During an emergency meeting in Hagatna, board members questioned why DOE had announced that schools were going to be shut down. Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood says they've been seeking help from the Governor's Office and the Guam Legislature.  "The one thing that I just want to be clear is that we did not cry wolf. We did not cry wolf," she strongly stated.  "We had written to our leaders. We have written to the governor. We had written to the Legislature. And it was only today when we received a letter from BBMR that there was a solution to what we had calculated as a problem."

Multiple letters were sent requesting for a supplemental budget. Bretania Underwood says DOE has been working hard to ensure they could stay afloat throughout the fiscal year.  "I had put Ms. [Taling] Taitano's feet to the fire, because for two years as I have been here as the superintendent, I have gone through this the same time every year. It's like deja vu where I couldn't get a handle on the numbers.  So I said 'Taling, I need to be sure because we are calling this.  What is the day when we can no longer certify the funds?'

"And Ms. Taitano said given the condition right now and without a response to our request, we could no longer certify for the next pay period, which means September."

DOE submitted a detailed outline of finances. BBMR had said if the agency were to take out prior year obligations, they might be able to make it through September.

In the meantime, board member Joe San Agustin says the last minute response from the administration leads one to question whether it's a political move.  "Just in this letter they said, 'Hey we're going to give you the $2 million that we should've given you. They actually used the department as a pawn for whatever reason they have. Maybe they used it as an exercise for the election. Because all of a sudden, they're a saving grace to the government. They shouldn't use the children of Guam," he said.

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