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Open schools earlier, avoid bus issues?

by Michele Catahay

Guam - In efforts to help parents avoid the early morning rush hour, Senator Judi Guthertz has fired off a letter to the Guam Education Policy Board requesting for schools to be opened earlier so parents can drop off their kids. But school administrators say this will not help the situation.

Senator Guthertz is asking the Department of Education to open schools thirty minutes early to accommodate students. Traffic congestion and bussing issues have allowed students to be late for classes but according to George Washington High School Assistant Principal for Discipline Gaylene Cruz, they already open up the gates fifteen minutes earlier than normal.   

"I don't think opening of the schools is going to fix the bus problem," said Cruz of the senator's concept.  "GW is supposed to open our gates at 7am. We are accommodating them by opening the gates at 6:45am with no compensation yet for employees. It's the afternoon that's an issue, not the morning."

Cruz has already indicated some of these concerns to the Guam Legislature during recent months. She says staff members have been asked to come in early to supervise. The problem is that DOE doesn't have enough funding for overtime to pay employees. While bus operations continues to work out issues with buses, Cruz suggests for the bus schedule to be changed in order to for students to be let out early.

"Maybe they can adjust the time then and let us out like JFK at around 1:20pm, like we've been asking in the past," she theorized.  "There wouldn't be a delay for elementary and middle school.  Because the time is so close together (a thirty-minute difference between bell times), if we're delayed then everyone else is delayed. And it's a trickle-down effect."

GEPB chairperson Ron Ayuyu says he's in receipt of the letter, which was transmitted to his office last Friday. He says he plans on meeting with the superintendent to determine the impacts of such a move. He says feedback is needed from school administrators before any action is taken.

"I see Untalan Middle School, I see P.C. Lujan Elementary School. The congestion is there and also going to Ordot-Chalan Pago Elementary School," he explained. "I see that it was really heavy traffic where sometimes it takes a lot of time to wait ten to twelve minutes to drop off our kids during traffic early in the morning. But that would be nice to do it at 6:30 in the morning. Maybe to help parents who are rushing to go to work at 8am."

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