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Plans drafted to address northern overcrowding

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - With a recent bill passed into law that would expand Okkodo High School, design plans have been created to accommodate the need to address the overcrowding issues up north. Principal Ken Denusta says he met with Rick Inman from the Guam Education Financing Foundation yesterday to discuss the expansion plans of the Dededo campus.  

GEFF is the company that built the new northern schools, and according to Denusta, the plan calls for a 600-student capacity increase for the school, which may cost approximately $21 million.  "It'll attach to our D-Wing area," he explained.  "We have a large track that has vacant lot so the expansion can be accommodated."

The Guam Legislature initially introduced legislation calling for the construction of a new northern high school. That bill received some negative feedback from the community. As a result amendments were made to instead expand the existing Okkodo facility, with funds for the expansion to come from the qualified school construction bond.

Denusta says despite Okkodo being a brand new campus, they're already experiencing overcrowding.  "One of the major concerns that I had addressed with the developer was what are we going to do about those common areas where students want to go to when they want to eat lunch or they come in early in the morning for breakfast?  So I was very pleased with the plans that he had and the design layout," he summarized.  "He had his architect team draw out the plans."

Denusta says the GEFF took into consideration a number of things before drafting up the plan to include the master schedule and the increase of enrollment. He says they're proposing to construct 36 classrooms, a dining hall, and upgrades to the football field area and restroom facilities. With the massive military buildup set to take place in the coming years, schools need to increase in capacity.

Language arts teacher Dina Santos says the expansion is a good thing, telling KUAM News, "I think with this expansion, it's exciting. It looks like we'll have more rooms, teachers won't have an overload of students and to me, I'm excited. I have some teachers in my department that have so many students and when he showed me the plans, I said 'Wow!'"

In the meantime, Denusta says the contractor will continue to work with the school community to determine whether the plan is feasible and if any changes are necessary.

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