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Superintendent tours Sanchez High

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Department of Education superintendent Jon Fernandez has begun the over 40 tours of school campuses which he will continue for the next few weeks. He headed up north on Wednesday, assessing one of Guam's most needy facilities: Simon Sanchez High School.

The Home of the Sharks is a campus the superintendent knew all too well. He's visited the school several times before due to chronic facilities and maintenance issues. "What happens when you walk through this school is you'll see it's an old facility," Fernandez began. "There's no expectation that it's going to be brand new, that the cleaning is going to remove all the years and years of buildup of some of these issues. But we want to address any critical health and safety issues, any regulatory requirements that need to be attended to."

Fernandez said the goal is to ensure schools are ready for operation this fall, telling KUAM News, "We're trying to tour all the schools over the next couple of weeks to prepare the schools for the opening of the school year. That means that as we're going through we're looking at all the progress in terms of cleaning, the progress in terms of stripping and waxing floors, any issues that are outstanding in terms of maintenance."

Wednesday's tour highlighted several outstanding issues that plague the Yigo campus, including dilapidated doors, old desks and equipment, temporary classrooms, a room full of records dating back to the 1970s, and continual leaks. "And it's not as bad as before where the duct system and the air conditioning system was leaking and flooding the building. Back in 2013, we fixed all that with new air conditioners, repairing the external ducts, but there's still some issues here and there that we need to go and clean up," he said.

"Simon Sanchez is clearly going to be one of our major projects just because of the overall condition of the facilities, but there's a lot that has to be done by administrators and staff as well."

The $100 million request for proposal to improve school campuses was published in June. Fernandez said interested bidders will be visiting SSHS next week, adding, "Really excited about the renovation opportunity and what lies ahead, but our job right now is to make sure we're ready to go for this school year, and whatever comes out in the future will help us address the longer term needs. And those include the sports facilities, getting these temporary buildings addressed once and for all. Addressing the main building, we know there have been some concerns about the design and longevity of the main building. Addressing the cafeteria, we currently share with FB Leon Guerrero, and many other issues."

Proposals for the RFP are due August 28.

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