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Charter school still looking for location

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Two years ago the Guahan Academy Charter School was given the green light to open doors but fast forward and the school has yet to find a location despite last week's target opening date. There may be over 100 students enrolled in the Guahan Academy Charter School's Startup Literacy Program, but they don't know where they'll be attending classes and when.

Project director Donna Dwiggins told KUAM News, "The biggest issues that we're dealing with right now are zoning. Making sure we're in a place where we would have to get any kind of conditional use permit; the permitting process just takes so long. And the second biggest issue is the cost factor and making sure we can be fiscally responsible in terms of renting that facility."

Dwiggins says she's looked at up to 20 properties since their hopes to occupy a portion of the CoreTech facility in Tiyan failed to materialize, but the school's strapped on cash since it was appropriated only $5,500 per student - $1,000 less than what was requested. And although there's an empty F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School campus in Umatac, Dwiggins says it's not ideal.

She said, "We didn't seriously consider it for our charter school because our charter school will be attracting people from all over the island. First of all, the facility is smaller than where we eventually want to be in terms of enrollment. Second, the transportation issue would be exasperated trying to get people down to Umatac."

Governor Eddie Calvo's education advisor, Vince Leon Guerrero, says there may not be a deadline provided in the law to open doors, but he's disappointed in the lack of progress made over the years. "It's a tough thing to start up a charter. You need to have a business plan. You need to be concerned about cash flow," he explained. "The schools aren't supposed to be figuring out location this late in the game. They're supposed to submit the location and the facility in their application."

Despite the challenges, Dwiggins hopes to open in November.

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