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Charter school accountability scrutinized

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Charter schools are back on the roundtable. This time, questions of accountability and funding have raised concerns.

A charter school is a public school, but it's run by a nonprofit and it has the flexibility because it is a nonprofit. Charter schools are flexible, but not when it comes to tight budgets. Charter School Council members met with Senator San Agustin this morning to discuss proposed Bill 191 which would remove oversight of finances from DOE to the Counsel itself.

The senator said, "Maybe we need to amend the laws so that we can separate the budget the total financial responsibility away from DOE and put it on the council or the counsel might need additional people to assist in the validation of the procurement."

Superintendent Jon Fernandez says the current situation has been a burden on DOE, who oversees 41 other public schools. He told KUAM News, "Give us the full divorce means the full separation we're not intertwined or full integration. What we're doing right now is a hybrid and I think that's where we are seeing a lot of the issues."

Although open to the idea of a split, Chairwoman Amanda Blas, says the Counsel worries that without a proper system in place, schools might fail. "The concern that I have is that when it comes to the budget if we do separate it are we going to be guaranteed to be funded? Are we going to have the executive director? Are we going to have the staff? All the services that the superintendent brought up That's my concern," she explained.

To fully integrate or fully separate that is the question of concern raised by Senators and council members for the future and timely success of Guam's charter schools.

"I have no issue supporting GDOE and their requests but my role is iLearn and the charter school itself can we justify our budget absolutely, but I would stress to you and the counsel that you're running out of time this budget is due at the end of January, stated Francis Santos, board chairman of ILearn Academy Charter School. For him, timely passage of the bill must be met with oversight, while still ensuring their schools and the children succeed.

"Someone needs to watch us because this is public money, make no mistake about it," he said. "Give us the flexibility to run our school."

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