Board to discuss budget at midweek meeting - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Board to discuss budget at midweek meeting

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Former senator Francis Santos brings his years of experience in financing to the Guam Education Board charged with overseeing the largest agency and largest single budget in the public sector. "The initial was closer to $300 million and we're definitely going to look at that and drive those numbers down to something that is more realistic," he said.

Santos says it will be a challenging task, but several ideas are on the table to make things run more efficiently. "We've agreed in principal to discuss the opening of a new central high school which is basically retaining the Tiyan facility, we are looking at the facilities and maintenance plan which is critical to the department, and then also the other numbers which will be reflective of this year's budget," he added.

Numbers such as the savings doe can realize by implementing the findings of an audit conducted two years ago by Evergreen Solutions. DOE paid almost a half-million dollars for the off-island company to conduct a bottom-up audit of DOE. The Florida-based company in a 399-page audit report provided several recommendations that if implemented could bring DOE a savings of over $156 million over the next five years.

An estimated $32 million would have been saved had doe implemented some of the findings last year.

Some of those recommendations included eliminating excess elementary teaching positions, excess general and one-to-one school aide positions as well as eliminate up to 18 assistant principal positions, to name a few.  Other recommendations include overhauling DOE'S maintenance operations and closing F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School. "It's always been discussed but just from a practical and financial standpoint it doesn't make any sense that you have 40 students and a one million dollar budget that is not fiscally responsible on the part of the department so we're going to address that in this budget," said Santos.

Former GEB chair and board finance committee chair Joe San Agustin however disagrees, saying, "We need to look at how we reduce the expense at F.Q. Sanchez for me before we shut it down but if the board majority votes to shut it down then that's beyond me but I'm not I'm not in support of shutting down F.Q."

The board meets Wednesday to discuss DOE's budget.

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