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Rodriguez calls on education board to meet

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - As Umatac residents hold on to hope F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School will be open this time next week, Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. is calling on the Guam Education Board to meet before the school year starts next week. With one week left until the start of the new school year, the southern community for the Home of the Seahorses continues to wait, refusing to purchase school supplies and uniforms.

The senator said, "Right now it's a disservice to the people to the kids down there right now they're just hoping. And they're still having hope that the school will reopen." He was the author of Bill 257 (now public law) its initial intent to keep the Umatac school open... But after amendments and revisions instead it became the overall budget for the Department of Education for next fiscal year with a provision related to F.Q. "The legislature expressed its intent to reopen that school, but left that up to the board and then to the governor if the board decides to not reopen," he said.

The issue of whether to close F.Q. Sanchez Elementary has been a highly contentious one a southern community wanting it to remain open because of its cultural and historical significance while the Guam Education Board looking at the bigger picture and the savings it would bring to a cash strapped DOE. F.Q. Sanchez Elementary enrollment is less than one hundred students. The plan to send them to nearby Merizo Elementary.

A former DOE deputy director, now senator Aline Yamashita has been a proponent of the schools consolidation with Merizo Elementary for the past 15 years. Not because of the money it would save, but rather, "The more experiences they have as a student the healthier it is. The greater they'll be able to learn. I think that really important. Yes, there are studies that say smaller is better but there are also studies that say to narrow an experience based doesn't do us any justice."

Senator Rodriguez is calling on the Guam Education Board to hold a special meeting this week to reconsider the issue before school starts next week. "I am asking them to please consider and put finality to this," he said.

If its finality the senator is seeking, DOE Interim Superintendent Taling Taitano was pretty sure the status of F.Q. Sanchez Elementary when we spoke with her today. "As far as I know, the board is planning to keep it closed," he said.

GEB chairperson Francis Santos told KUAM News today the board will no longer entertain the issue involving F.Q. Sanchez Elementary and their next meeting is scheduled for after the school year starts.

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