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Chartering success: school community hopeful about providing quality learning environment

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While the first charter school on Guam is asking for a Guam Department of Education building to extend their cramped Tiyan campus, the newest charter school on the block is still struggling to get all classrooms up and running. But one parent and admin lead are hopeful both Charter Schools can succeed.

Recently elected President of the Parent Teacher Organization, Paul Tapao is pleased with the challenging curriculum his son receives at Science is Fun and Awesome Learning Academy, though he admits the school was off to a rough start.  "I know for a fact, and I can speak for all 99 parents it was challenging it was tough but the staff at SIFA assured us where the curriculum was gonna go for a few weeks our kids were pretty much nomadic education," Tapao said.

Though students are now studying "STEAM"- Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Mathematics at a building on-campus, construction for the four buildings on the Tiyan property remains "in progress". The delay in completion raised questions from the Department of Labor, who last month was investigating payment for contractors, and GDOE, whose audit office is currently reviewing a $100,000 validation for construction.

Tapao says facility challenges are "growing pains" of a first year school, that the PTO is confident will soon be resolved. "Venturing into something new there's always that uncertainty so with that being a part of the PTO we ask SIFA and Eagle Land to be very transparent with what's going on for the operation," he said. "This is the infancy stage and hopefully they're going to blossom as a school to reach the potential they can achieve through SIFA academy."

SIFA isn't the only Charter School facing facility issues.

Nearby, Dr. Judith Won Pat, Chief Academic Officer at Guahan Academy Charter School is fighting for use of GDOE's Building E, saying, "We don't rather have the luxury that all the schools right now have there's just so little that we're asking for."  Showing us cramped rooms often shared by multiple employees, Won Pat expressed a need to expand parking and classrooms for the 713 students at GACS.

Responding to Superintendent Jon Fernandez's claim that the building is still in use, she said, "You know we're all about the Children, and this involves Special needs children and we have them as well, therefore that testing room can continue to be used for the purpose it was built for."

"It's just not a conducive learning environment when you're considered what we're faced with."

New to the job, she's also working on hearing back from accreditation officials by early next year.

Meantime, Chairwoman of the Charter School Council Amanda Blas tells KUAM the council is in direct contact with all Charter Schools, hoping to meet before the end of the year.

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