DOE reacts to cheaper option to build new central high school - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DOE reacts to cheaper option to build new central high school

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - While GovGuam waits on the Attorney General's Office to review the CoreTech lease agreement, one local developer releases more information on his plans to build a central high school for cheap.

Instead of buying the CoreTech buildings in Tiyan to convert into a central high school, developer Alfred Ysrael proposes GovGuam build a new one and for under $30 million.

As we reported on Monday, Ysrael proposes that instead of buying the 50-year old buildings, that private, local investors front the cash through the establishment of "The Guam Education Foundation Inc."

Although the initial pricetag to purchase the Tiyan buildings was $43 million, with the addition of other buildings for doe central offices, a gym, and the buildings currently occupied by the Guahan Academy Charter School, that figure goes up to $98 million in cash. For GovGuam, that equates to 245-million in tax credit exchanges in a lease back agreement with CoreTech.

As we reported yesterday, Ysrael questioned the purchase of old buildings verses building new.

In his plans released today, building a new facility from the ground up could be done for under $30 million with a rate of return or interest at about 6%. He also states that in his plans that "there are too many consultant and advisers on this project, that might be the contributing factor to the high selling price."

In preliminary sketches of his proposed new central high, there are 84 classrooms, a central administration building that will include a library, nurses station, security, a gym, and a cafeteria. This proposal, however, would require that GovGuam continue to rent Tiyan for another two years to allow the construction of the new school.

But is it too good to be true?

Department of Education superintendent Jon Fernandez says he's excited to hear others join the conversation to bring solutions for schools, but Ysrael's proposal wouldn't solve the immediate needs of George Washington High School and their overcrowded campus of 2,700 students.

"I think I speak on behalf of our public school students and their families is that delays are not good enough for our school system," he said.

According to a recent study conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers, delays have resulted in $90 million of deferred maintenance for DOE schools which is why Fernandez continues to push for the Tiyan purchase.

"Delay is not a solution. I hope that all the parties involved and interested can get together and really make sure that everything that needs to happen by December 31st happens and I would enjoy their participation in addressing the facility needs that we know we have to across the school system," he said.

Looking ahead, Fernandez says GEDA and DOE have an MOU in which GEDA will take on the task of developing a master facilities plan as well as financing to build new schools and repair existing ones.

"Mr. Ysrael and any other investor any other developer we hope they would stay interested in participating in that broader effort. I think right now we're talking about two separate things: there is an immediate need to let me know and the GW community know whether a solution is available to them or not. And then there's a broader discussion about what we're going to do to fix the rest of our schools who've suffered from delay in investment," he said.

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