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First Education Board meeting a shocker

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By Nick Delgado

Guam - Some major changes are expected in the coming months for the Department of Education. During Wednesday evenings Guam education board meeting members selected their new leadership. Former chair Ron Ayuyu nominated recently appointed member Francis Santos to serve as chair as well as Dr. Paul Pineda to serve as vice chair.

Former vice chair Rosie Tainatongo nominated Joe San Agustin to serve as chair, while San Agustin nominated Dr. Ed Cruz to serve as vice chair. DOE Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood announced the majority votes went to Santos to serve as the new board chair and Dr. Pineda to serve as vice chair. But in a shocking twist to the meeting, Dr. Underwood during her superintendent report to the board admitted that she will not reapply for the education chief position when her contract expires on June 22, 2011.

Underwood says after 30 years of service, "it's time for me to do what I want to do." Board members along with participants were surprised by her announcement and thanked her for her service. While Underwood says she encourages the board to begin the hiring process to ensure a smooth transition, GEB chairman Francis Santos says he first wants to have a private conversation with the superintendent regarding her decision.

The concern, Santos agrees, is that they do not want to jeopardize any ongoing plans or federal funding the department is working on getting. The board will also hold a special meeting on April 6 to begin discussions on DOE's Fiscal Year 2012 budget.

Meanwhile, the board also approved a $2.8 million Head Start grant application which is due on April 1. The board also tabled discussions to change the schedule for Southern High school, as member Barry Mead pointed out that the current curriculum program is not working resulting in the Santa Rita campus having the lowest SAT scores for the past several years.

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