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Bill subjects charter schools to procurement laws

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Legislation aiming to subject charter schools to the Government of Guam procurement process got failing marks from the Guahan Academy Charter School.

Rebecca Warfield may be an attorney but above all else her most important responsibility is her children. Her son attends the Guahan Academy Charter School and since transferring from Untalan Middle School she has seen a dramatic improvement.

During a public hearing on Bill 237 she testified in opposition of the legislation. The measure was introduced by Senator Aline Yamashita and Speaker Judi Won Pat. Both are long time educators.

The legislation would amend the current law establishing charter schools in Guam and subject them to Government of Guam procurement rules and regulations. The legislation would also remove charter schools exclusive control over their expenditures.

"Your taking away my sons assistive technology when you slash through those words you're taking my child's ability to go from a third grade reading level to a 7th grade reading level in a few months that's what it looks like that's what you're doing its not about politics its about people," she said.

Warfield told lawmakers instead what needs to happen is for the legislature to strengthen the Charter School Council. Co-author Senator Aline Yamashita responded that she understands Warfield's concerns and is listening. "I hear you I hear you you're blessed you're because your son is now at 8th grade reading level my son is at a 3rd grade reading level so I hear you. So there is nothing that this legislature want to do to take away learning opportunities so that all kids can excel if we had this kind of dialogue your right we probably wouldn't even be here but we did not and it was our responsibility to proceed and to ask," she said.

Also believing more dialogue is needed was Charter School Council chairwoman Rosa Palomo who recommended that a thorough section by section review be conducted of the actual law allowing for charter schools. In its current form, Palomo testified the council only has monitoring responsibilities

"So all that we can mostly do as a council is say hello we notice this or this is seems to be happening or someone has called into say something is happening what can you tell us about this or explain it they can explain it what can we do short of withdrawing the approval of their charter," she said.

Meanwhile Attorney Daniel Somerfleck who represents the Guahan Academy Charter School testified that by including GACS under the GovGuam procurement it would essentially kill the school. He cited numerous problems DOE has faced with procurement such as protests over air cons, Xerox machines, internet services and security alarms.

"I don't know any agency that says 'yippie yai yo, our procurement runs smooth, runs clean and we're able to procure for our agency without difficulty!' - if what the legislature is seeking is oversight over the charter school do a three sentence bill the Guam Legislature shall have oversight over the schools each and everyone of them," he said.

But even in doing that Somerfleck testified the legislature would be gutting the law creating the charter schools which gave oversight power to the Charter School Council.

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