Round 1 of budget cuts at DOE - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Round 1 of budget cuts at DOE

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After a $20 milllion cut in their budget, the administration at DOE hopes round 1 of their own cuts, will be enough to stop the wound from bleeding.

According to DOE, that includes immediately cutting what they call "low-hanging fruit" that should have the least impact on the operations at local schools.

First, the Superintendent Jon Fernandez says they'll cut 10 percent of utility consumption, conserving lighting, air conditioning, water use, shutting down computers and limiting photocopying. The second, a delay in new spending, like Pre-K expansion.

 Fernandez says, “We've been pushing expansion, right now we have four schools serving 72 students, we had authority and identified funding to further expand to five schools, D.L. Peres, Maria Ulloa, Agana Heights, P.C. Lujan, and Inarajan Elementary School 618 the work was going to start this year, and open up next school year, until we find the resources to support that, that iniative is going to have to be delayed.”

Delaying Pre-K expansion is $1 million in savings. But it's not close to enough. Other ideas include, prolonging the hiring freeze for their Central Office and Assistant Principal, utilizing the Tiyan Headquarters to lease to other government agencies, and leasing the Piti Property for commercial use.

While DOE also looks at how they can sweep up available funding from other sources like the $1.5 million Governor Eddie Calvo appropriated for school repairs, unused textbook funds, and a portion of the real property tax reserved to rebuild Simon Sanchez.

Fernandez also stated, “In the letter there's a reference to the Simon Sanchez funds for renovation, those are funds related to the lease back, however because process has stalled and not being utilized for lease, and we're at least two years away, we're asking government agencies and legislature to determine the amount in reserved account to be able to utilize this to offset cuts.”

In his memo he says the funds for Sanchez add up to $8.5 million reserved annually for GDOE.

But the ultimate goal is quality education.

 “We're not going to be able to address all these issues without touching the classrooms, but we want to make sure that kids are safe, have a teacher in classroom and have an opportunity to learn”, says Fernandez.

But, round 2 of cuts, he admits won't be as forgiving.

Other options that remain on the table - closing schools like JP Torres Success Academy.

You can read his memo on our website and view today's press conference on KUAM's Facebook Page.

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