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DOE starting the furlough process

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It's official: DOE is starting the furlough process. The proposal passed at a GEB Board Meeting Tuesday at JFK High. Students and Teachers concerned what this means for their future.

It's a hard pill to swallow, but members of the Guam Education Board have no other choice but to make more drastic cuts. The board unanimously approving DOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez's proposal to start Phase 2 and 3 of budget cuts after exhausting all efforts in the first phase.

"If the cash crisis continues and we don't have the cash to operate the department, I think the issue is we may be facing layoffs without the furlough option that allows us to address situation more broadly," Fernandez said.

As reported, DOE's cuts are deep to make up the $19 million loss. The board's vote means if nothing changes, DOE will start the furlough process. The first notice will go out in April, and the 32-hour workweek will start as early as July. Superintendent Fernandez, clarifies it'll affect 12-month employees, not teachers.

However, for Mrs. Duenas, a long time language arts teacher at Southern High she's prepared for the worst. "The legislative body really needs to be what they say they get elected on the platform education is important, now it's the time to step up and show it," she said. "Our department literally holds the future of our island in our hands, to use phrases like manufactured crisis giving money to drug dealers, I take offense."

Other cuts include no more on call substitute teachers for the rest of the year, delaying the start of the school year to October 1 and school facilities will close early, affecting 4th and 1st quarter sports and other after-school extracurricular.

To which representative from the Islandwide Board of Governing Students Luke Bukikosa says makes cuts personal for his and his classmates, saying, "Think about the students who have trouble at home, sports is the only thing they can escape there, if we take away this what are we showing our students they don't understand tax cuts, they don't understand budgets all they're going to think is that we as a community do not care."

"If we're not funding our schools how are we going to have a future what is the point of getting a tax refund today if you're missing out on half a paycheck for the next three years."

He and others spent their hump day afternoon at the Guam Congress Building, hoping their presence will finally get lawmakers to act, at least, for the sake of their education.

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