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Barrigada school unsure about move

by Krystal Paco

Guam - Untalan Middle School may be falling apart, but faculty and staff aren't so sure that rushing to move to CoreTech's facility in Tiyan is a good idea. School staffers are waiting on the superintendent and the governor to make the call.

It may have taken John F. Kennedy High School nine days to move out of the George Washington High School in Mangilao to the interim facility in Tiyan, but UMS faculty and staff think a similar move from Barrigada to Tiyan would take longer.  During a meeting held this morning, staff admitted they'd like to see renovations to the campus.

6th grade language arts teacher Michael Gogo told KUAM News, "If we wait any longer, something is bound to happen. This may be long tossed from now but the roof falling on students as they walk through because the awning there is not exactly strong or safe, or walking on cement. So I know the logistics in moving is what we need to be concerned with."

But there are serious doubts about whether such a move is realistic over the remaining one week left of Christmas Break while students are out of class. Principal Jim Reyes said, "It may extend beyond what we have left of our Christmas Break and it may actually result in us prolonging the restart of our school year."

The idea of moving Untalan to Tiyan temporarily was raised earlier this week. The Barrigada campus is one of the oldest on the island and has been plagued with flooding and leaking ceilings, just to name a few. "We never want to wait for an accident to happen, and really it's by the previous inspections, the campus was still deemed suitable we had a 'B' rating, and so my acknowledgment is that its still suitable for us to occupy the facility," Reyes continued.

Untalan's cafeteria also prepares meals for the neighboring Carbullido and P.C. Lujan schools.  The cafeteria equipment that was utilized for the interim JFK in Tiyan was moved to the new JFK so it would raise some logistical concerns. "My request is that we not do this until the summer to allow for proper planning, so the transition will be as smooth as possible," Reyes added.

Some teachers, however, were concerned that if the school might lose out on the opportunity if they don't take it now. Chamorro teacher Ben Mesa said, "The walls are broken and sometimes it leaks when there's heavy rain. The flooring - I don't know what condition it's at right now. Even the whiteboard is broken; it's really unsafe. It has deteriorated my health since the beginning of the school year."

He added, "We need to move because something is bound to happen."

While the idea of having their students in a facility that is conducive to learning and having the Barrigada campus renovated is exciting, faculty and staff are just waiting on DOE Central and the governor to make the call.  Governor's director of communications Troy Torres says they're working with doe to see what they want to do with the facility that has been vacant and ready for use since JFK moved out.

He said, "Of course financing is an issue, but it has become the top priority for the administration to find that financing. So there are a lot of things DOE has to plan, a lot of logistics, a lot of considerations, the school year, the movement of teachers, the movement of collateral equipment, chalkboards, etc., etc. and we understand that that sort of planning takes time, but I think everybody who is involved is working as quickly as possible on a solution."

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