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Piti school burglarized

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Valuable hours of instructional times lost from senseless acts of vandalism, with the victims the island's schoolchildren. "These classrooms here in this main courtyard we've got 8th grade classrooms and we've got 7th grade classrooms," explained assistant principal Erwin Manibusan.

But today those classrooms were empty. Jose Rios Middle School in Piti is the latest campus to be struck by vandals. "We had 16 classrooms that got broken into 323 and right now we don't know the extent of the damage," he added, noting that when students arrived, "They had breakfast time and they were just routed up to the gym."

Not a typical day for these middleschoolers. "They're normal routine would be to kind of be in this courtyard area. Going to classrooms area there that type of thing," he said.

Instead it was back to school for Guam Police to investigate and DOE Facilities and Maintenance Manager Billy Cruz to evaluate. "I think it's got pretty bad," he said.

So bad Cruz within the school system that he is putting together a plan to install security alarms in all of Guam's public schools. "It cost the department $50,000+, that was back then probably more than six years ago. Today it's going to be different," he said.

Somewhere around $200,000-300,000, according to Cruz. But at this point with the barrage of break-ins he believes it is an investment that must be made. "It will continue until we execute our security alarm system," he said.

And until then, unfortunately administrators like Manibusan may be left greeting students as the walk in. "They were all, 'What's going on? What's going on?' We told them our school got vandalized."

According to Cruz, he is putting together a security alarm plan that he will be presenting to the Guam Education Board, urging them to adopt to secure the island's public schools. Meanwhile, according to Manibusan, tomorrow was actually supposed to be a half-day for students so that faculty and staff could continue their preparations for an upcoming WASC visit, instead because of today's burglary they've called that off and instead students will have a full day of classes Wednesday.

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