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Guam Education Board faces daunting challenges

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While many new faces are stepping into public office, familiar officials remain on the Guam Education Board. Today, they were sworn-in as elected members, while education funding faces major cuts.

They've been there, done that, now, elected to sit on the GEC again. Four elected leaders were sworn in by Chief Justice Katherine Maraman on Monday, including current Chairman Mark Mendiola.

"It is my firm belief that the eighth education board was transparent in its work and encouraged active participation in our policy decision making processes," he said

Live streaming meetings and hosting public work sessions are just some practices Mendiola is confident will continue in the 9th Guam Education Board.

While they raise their right hands with experience, Board Member Maria Gutierrez said there are challenging changes.

"What makes it different this time around? The budget cut and we need to continue to fight for our students," she said.

As reported, the Bureau of Budget & Management Research announced a $9 million shortfall in Territorial Education Facilities Fund. The cuts are forced to come from Guam's public education. The brunt of the cuts- an estimated $4 million slice- is GDOE appropriations.

"The biggest challenge is the budget," Board Member Lourdes Benavente said.

"In the legislature, there are majority women the governor's a woman 237 that's a motherly instinct and I believe education being part of the three tenants of the organic act I think we're going to have a better year this year,"  James Lujan added.

Though it may not be the first time they sit on the board they're looking forward to addressing challenges in the New Year.

"It's going to be a tough year, you know we understand the budget constraints," Mendiola said. "I think we're going to continue getting ourselves off of high-risk status - that's going to be one of our biggest priorities."

In the meantime, Dr. Ron McNinch will also stay on the board. The five await new appointees from the Governor's Office.

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