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Charter school will open on August 19

by Krystal Paco

Guam - After years of postponing their opening date, the island's first charter school is slated to finally open doors with the rest of DOE on August 19th.

But in order for them to have funds to operate past September 30th, their Fiscal Year 2014 budget request must get the seal of approval from the Charter School Council before being presented to members of the Guam Legislature.

It was red flags for Guam Academy Charter School Council members as they reviewed the Guahan Academy Charter School budget request for Fiscal Year 2014.

Council chair Rosa Palomo said, "We are responsible not only for the charter school children but for all children in the school children because for every dollar that we approve to go to the charter school is going to be a dollar taken away from the rest of the public school children."

And for the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, the Guahan Academy Charter School was approved a budget of $687,500 from DOE's budget - or $5,500 per pupil. At today's meeting however, charter school representatives presented an increased Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for $6,800 per pupil.

GACS management consultant Marilyn Manibusan says it isn't an unreasonable figure noting that in the past, the same council approved a budget of $6,500 per pupil which was then cut by $1,000 by the Guam Legislature.

"So charter school is crippled because we said this is what it's going to cost to set up I don't think in good conscious we have to come back and say we're happy with it because we're not. What we're saying is that we appeal to you to be comfortable to say that at the time when we first approved the budget the board was comfortable with $6,500," she said.

Due to an overwhelming turnout of interested students, the GACS is also requesting to double their enrollment from the approved 500 students to start up, to 1000 students.

Council member Joseph Cameron expressed his concerns as the CoreTech facility in Tiyan cannot cater to the 100% increase in the student population.

"That would be an overpopulation," he said. "The current campus only maxes to a certain number and the current campus cannot take the doubling. Because the additional classes that would be needed they would've maxed their capacity at the current campus and that they would be seeking for another campus."

Meanwhile other concerns were raised including student meals as GACS business consultant Jerry Crawford reported DOE's food provider Sodexo cannot provide services to the new school for their first year. GACS is currently communicating with three catering companies to provide food for students. He notes, for the first few months students will have to pay out of pocket for their meals until federal reimbursements kick in.

The charter school council recessed today's meet until July 25th where they have requested GACS representatives provide a more detailed justification of their budget based on an agreed $6,500 per pupil.

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