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Principal addresses school's closure and move

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Before more than a thousand students can return to Untalan Middle School, all citations from leaks in ceilings, drainage problems and issues with the walkway must be repaired. Those repairs are what UMS principal Jim Reyes told a room full of parents and staff at tonight's Parent Teacher Association meeting following the Barrigada campus' closure by the Department of Public Health for various health and safety citations.

Reyes is unsure of when the problems will be fixed as they are long-running issues that school has faced for some time. He adds that Department of Education superintendent Taling Taitano is meeting with its facilities and maintenance management to address the problem.

Earlier this morning the Guam Education Board approved the move of Untalan Middle School to the Core Tech facility in Tiyan pending a memorandum of agreement signed by Governor Eddie Calvo and the board, inclusive of collateral equipment needed for the move. Although it's unclear when this move will be made, Reyes is waiting on word if students will go straight into the Tiyan facility, which they proposed starting classes on January 30.

As Reyes reiterated to the Guam Education Board this morning, he's operating under a sense of urgency for the safety of the Wildcat community.  "Of course I was sharing with them because some were concerned what about our children and the disruption of their education," Reyes said. "And I shared with them that 'Yes, I understand that as a principal that there is going to be disruption in the learning process', but if I had to weigh that against the safety of our children on a daily basis, the safety of our children is going to outweigh that."

In regards to makeup days, Reyes says just as he considered them with the timeline for the possible move to Tiyan, there are six potential makeup days left in the academic calendar year - two during Spring Break and four at the end of the school year. He is concerned that depending on how soon they can reopen the school, should they exceed the six days, finances are going to start kicking in specifically in terms of paying teachers extra because they are tapping into Summer Break.

Second Quarter exams were set to begin next week. All parents and staff needed to vacate the premises as of eight this evening due to Public Health's closure of the school.

Parents can visit the school's web site at WWW.GDOE.NET/UMS

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