Speaker Judi Won Pat
31st Guam Legislature
Hafa Adai my Dear People of Guam.
Yesterday, the Guam Legislature convened and voted unanimously to pass Substitute Bill 257. The bill provides the necessary funds to keep FQ Sanchez Elementary School open while also providing the necessary funding for all of GDOE. Specific provisions appropriated funding to GDOE for the payment of air conditioner equipment and maintenance of collateral equipment
for George Washington High School, and for collateral equipment at Simon Sanchez High School, Southern High School, and Agueda Johnston Middle School.
Additionally, a provision was included that would allow the Board of Education to explore and implement alternative measures to feasibly maintain the operations of F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School, as well as to permit the Governor of Guam to reopen the school through the issuance of an Executive Order in the event that the Board of Education votes to maintain its decision to close F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School.
The rationale given by DOE officials to close F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School was based on a number of factors inclusive of the high per pupil cost, recommendations from the 2009 Evergreen Report, and safety issues.
Herein rest the greatest challenge: enacting legislation that would reopen F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School at a level of operation that was both feasible to suit the needs of those served by the school and equitable for the tens of thousands of other students served by DOE throughout the island.
The Guam Legislature agrees with the governor's assertion that education is priceless. In fact, the Guam Legislature took it a step further by increasing the governor's budget request for DOE from $196 million to $216 million based on further evaluation and research conducted by the Office of Finance and Budget under the leadership of former Speaker Ben Pangelinan.
At the end of the day and after much debate we achieved bipartisan support to approve an increased budgeted amount for GDOE and measures that empower the Board of Education with the tools and resources necessary to open F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School thereby preserving the integrity of the board and the dignity of the families and students served at FQ Sanchez Elementary School.
Substitute Bill 257 will now be transmitted to the governor for action and I thank the broader community for stepping forward to be a part of this great public discourse.
The next step is to introduce legislation that would prevent similar occurrences of schools being closed in the future without advanced published notice and an opportunity for the affected communities to respond, and that would further preclude the closure of any school at 60 days or less prior to the commencement of the new school year. I will be including in the draft legislation provisions that will address the future opening and closing of schools, the rehabilitation and utilization of school facilities, and the disposition of real or personal property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.