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Construction completion expected by mid-July

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - JFK High School stakeholders have anxiously been awaiting the completion of the new campus in Upper Tumon. While International Bridge Corporation has been working tirelessly to get the campus ready in time for the new school year, apparently islanders are going to have to wait a bit longer before the campus is ready for a ribbon cutting or occupancy.  

"Our stakeholders were led to believe that come June 20 because in our initial conversation and discussion with IBC June 20 was the drop-dead deadline and that we should begin moving after June 20 providing the occupancy permit is issued," said Ken Chargualaf, principal of JFK High.

But an occupancy permit hasn't been issued and won't be for some time.  Public Works Director Joanne Brown was one of a select few who were given a tour of the facility last Thursday to see first hand the progress of construction, saying, "It looks overall the main structural designs of the JFK campus are in place. Certainly they're working on the classrooms putting on the finishing touches and then areas like the band room there's the additional compound on the left side of JFK where the existing buildings were maintained and simply refurbishing those buildings and that work is coming along."

While progress is being made, it's not to be as fast as JFK Islanders had hoped for. "They gave us the information that hopefully by mid-part of July -around the 15th - they would have most of those structural issues addressed and then in phases they can begin having the respective classroom buildings opened up, I believe, so that the DOE can bring what

materials and things they need to install to get the school ready," noted Brown.

Brown says IBC also indicated that the gym flooring would be laid at a later time and the paving of the parking lot and landscaping would be done after July 15. With two crews working on the site, Brown and other government officials were given assurances that the school would be ready in time for the new school year which officially begins on August 9.

But for Chargualaf and his staff and faculty, the new deadline is cutting it close as it leaves less than four weeks to get the school ready. He said, "It's a very rough start and that has major adverse impacts in our operations," adding, "hearing all the challenges that IBC is going through and some of the things that we would not be seeing ready by the time we get to the new JFK that kind of dampens our excitement enthusiasm going to the new JFK."

Chargualaf says IBC also needs to communicate about what will not be completed by July 15 so the faculty can come up with alternatives for instruction.  For example, if the gym floor isn't ready, the physical education dept. will need to come up with a new plan for physical education classes.

With student orientation set for August 1, the principal says every day is critical to ensuring a smooth opening. We want to use every single day including the weekends to prepare the school.  We don't want our time and energy focusing on the ribbon cutting that has to occur at least July 27, and that is the proposal that I'm going to put on the table to IBC," said Chargualaf.

IBC officials did not respond to our inquiries about the reasons for the construction delay. Meanwhile, the government has until September 30 to leave the interim campus in Tiyan as it has already given notice of the intent to terminate the lease with CoreTech.

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