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GW High faces serious overcrowding

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - After deciding to stick with the status quo for this coming school year, officials at George Washington High School are doing what they can to reduce the overcrowding situation that will be experienced beginning next week. GW's capacity is 2,100 students, but Principal Begona Flores expects 2,800 students this coming school year.   

Overcrowded classrooms equate to higher student-to-teacher ratios, which Flores says could be as high as 35 students per teacher making for an inadequate learning environment. "It's always best to have a small class size, but we don't experience that here at GW because of the over enrollment of students here," she added.

The overcrowding situation has become a major concern for parents like Melisa Prelosky, whose daughter is a returning student and incoming sophomore. "My husband and I have considered other options. You know, private school," she told KUAM News. "But we're also considering my daughter who wants to finish school here. But I believe what they're doing with the verification and stuff to give the people of the district priority, that's a start but there's more that can be done."

While discussions were held earlier this year to discuss solutions for the dilemma that included redistricting students, double-session and an extended day schedule, Flores says the decision was made to remain status quo, but officials have been cleaning up enrollment. "We had during the summer requested parents to come in and verify or update their demographics. Because we want to make sure that all 2,700 that come to GW are really from the attendance villages that attend GW," she said.

The enrollment cleanup has proven effective as Flores reports over 90 students have been withdrawn and placed in their respective districts at the John F. Kennedy and Southern High Schools. Anticipating the additional students, the school was able to purchase additional tables and chairs and JFK recently gave 150 desks to the Home of the Geckos - but Flores says they're all temporary fixes to a bigger problem.

"Of course, a definite need for another high school especially to accommodate the students from the central areas," she said.

GW's enrollment as of this morning is 2,656 students. The deadline for mayor's verification and utility bill has been extended to this Friday.

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