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School's possible Tiyan move debated

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The Guam Education Board is currently debating on whether Untalan Middle School's staff, students and faculty should temporarily relocate to Core Tech's facilities in Tiyan. Governor Eddie Calvo offered up the plan after touring the dilapidated facilities and seeing the conditions students and staff have been having to endure.

Appearing before the Board this morning were the Governor's Education Liaison Vince Leon Guerrero and Director of Communications Troy Torres. The two stress the need for the relocation because of structural and safety concerns. Torres also cited as an example a student that slipped and fell while at the Barrigada campus last week.

Meanwhile when board members chimed in, Ron Ayuyu said he was concerned about the safety of students and would vote in support of the temporary move. Dr. Jose Cruz and Rosie Tainatongo questioned who would foot the bill for repairs at Untalan. Leon Guerrero responded that although there is no money the Governor is providing assurances that they would work to find it. He told the Board that the Department of Education will not have to foot the bill for anything regarding the lease.

Meanwhile member Barry Mead expressed concerns about the relocation plan and timeline; even so far as mentioning how the new John F. Kennedy High School hasn't been completed and how there are no mitigating penalties. Mead also said there wasn't wiggle room for makeup days after looking at UMS Principal Jim Reyes's time schedule for the move. He questioned why the board wasn't involved in discussions from the beginning, saying because if it fails, they will be blamed.

Guam Education Board Chairperson Francis Santos said he wanted assurances on the timeline in terms of when the school will be ready as well as an exit and enter strategy. Leon Guerrero responded that no equipment had been ordered because they are waiting for the board's approval first. He added a minimal amount will be air-freighted. Santos also was concerned about expending money without a certification of funds. Torres reiterated that Governor Calvo has made this his top priority.

Principal Reyes told the board that although he concurs with a January 9th memorandum from DOE Interim Superintendent Taling Taitano stating the move would be best over the summer, he is operating with a sense of urgency to move. Reyes added he is ready to move with the school set to close on January 20th and will take affect on Saturday, January 21. The UMS Principal added all collateral equipment and textbooks and a major bulk of the move will take place on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd. From January 23rd through the 26th teachers would then make their move to Tiyan and set up classrooms. Student orientation would be held on January 27th with the Department of Public Works providing bussing. Core Tech he added would provide equipment for the move. He assured the board that there were days in the school calendar that can be used as make-up days.

The board meeting continues this hour.

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