by Krystal Paco
Guam - While Untalan Middle School faculty and staff make the move from the deteriorating Barrigada campus to CoreTech's facility in Tiyan, a school down south is waiting it out for their turn to receive some much-needed repairs. Oceanview Middle School principal Lynda Hernandez-Avilla sits on edge as her Agat campus is due for an inspection from the Department of Public Health any day now.
The school's last inspection, in November 2010, resulted in 20 demerits for citations including old moldy carpeting, leaking roofs, standing water, plumbing, and broken air conditioners. Unfortunately, there's not much the principal can do besides make band-aid repairs and set up caution tape as she waits for the Department of Education's much-anticipated funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to be spent.
"The bottom line is that we do have problems, it needs to be fixed [sic]," she said. "But again, it's a funding issue and we just hope that we are able to identify those funds to help fix our schools."
While she watches as UMS faculty and staff make the move from their deteriorating Barrigada campus to the interim school in Tiyan, Hernandez-Avilla worries for her students' safety as portions of the concrete roofing are known to come crashing down. With no money to work with, DOE maintenance staffers are forced to create makeshift plywood support beams. If it isn't safe indoors, it's not much safer outdoors as students are also restricted from playing in the courtyard because of overgrown vegetation, on top of falling objects. She prays for good weather because 14 classrooms that comprise "C" and "D" wings are made of wood with tin roofing and for those very reasons experience termite infestation and mold buildup.
She told KUAM News, "These are supposed to be called temporary buildings and yet it's been temporary for the past fifteen to twenty years, I believe. ..I'm afraid that at any time we have a major typhoon my 'C' and 'D' wings may blow away because they're wooden structures."
According to DOE's 2010 Facilities Capital Action Plan, to get Oceanview up to standards will cost the agency close to $9,000,000. Some $60,000,000 in ARRA funding is set to help cover costs, but protests continue to delay any repairs. According to DOE interim superintendent Taling Taitano, school repairs are being made by systems district-wide, with the first being roofing, then electrical.