Need for education suruhanu questioned - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Need for education suruhanu questioned

by Nick Delgado

Guam - While the upcoming school year is expected to bring in more teachers and even open a new JFK High School facility, more efforts are underway to cut costs in the Government of Guam. Department of Education officials are working with lawmakers on a solution to determine just where those cuts can be made, but amid the discussion, it seems that even after three years the question still remains if certain positions were really even necessary.

The position in question is the education suruhanu. With the recent school closure of Simon Sanchez High School by Public Health, the concern is raised once again if the $80,000 a year position is needed. Dominic Terlaje sits in the position that was created during the 29th Guam Legislature. "I've heard what is the office needed for and why do we need it and everybody has an opinion and I respect that, but let me you what I've seen for three years and what I saw when the AG's task force went out, that's what inspections do they uncover and they reveal the problems that we have especially in a very unique circumstance, it's a school," he said.

The suruhanu was placed under the Attorney General's Office last year. But it's questions that concerned citizens still raise, such as Why pay someone twice the amount to ensure schools are healthy and safe, when doe for years has had a safety administrator. Bruce Williams has been with the department for just over four years, and according to the staffing pattern DOE is paying him some $35,000 a year.

Williams disagrees with the way the task force today is handling things, saying, "My recommendations, we all need to step back and take a look at what we are doing, we are wasting a lot of time and a lot of money, we are affecting the schools and affecting the children, we got to get together because we are all the same government and we need to sit down on the table and hash this out." He added, "If you don't have imminent danger, why shut down a school just because a bunch of points? The point system antiquated and we need to look at that and revisit that."

Terlaje said, "If they feel that this office is not needed, that's up to the leaders to decide."

Despite being involved in the creation of the suruhanu position, Education Committee chairperson Speaker Judi Won Pat confirms she has taken the lead in determining what positions are redundant. She also confirms Terlaje will not be reapplying for the position when his contract ends next month. "We are looking into exactly those positions and specifically the responsibility of those positions...my understanding is that he has indicated that he will not be reapplying for the position, so either we can hold off and use it as another position in a sense as a part-time attorney, part-time suruhanu there is just many options," she explained.

Won Pat says she will continue discussion on the cost cutting efforts with DOE and the AG's Office in hopes to have a final plan before the beginning of this school year.

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