Moylan drafts legislation to allow as many as 7 charter schools - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Moylan drafts legislation to allow as many as 7 charter schools

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The more charter schools, the merrier. One senator is pushing a bill that if passed, would allow a total of seven new charter schools to exist on island. During a public hearing, it was Career Tech Academy who advocated for the expansion.

Currently, there are only three charter schools on Guam. Sen. James Moylan introduced Bill 57, which that if passed would amend the law to allow up to seven public schools to become chartered.

"School choice on Guam is very problematic in that if a parent or a child is struggling in their district school the only option is private schools many which is unaffordable to most families," the freshman policymaker said.

Steven McMannus represents Career Tech Academy, who supports the bill. The potential southern school was conditionally approved by the Charter School Council last year, but plans couldn't move forward because the limit of charter schools allowed by law was reached.

Former Gov. Felix Camacho also represents Career Tech.

"The ability for this economy to expand is hampered by the lack of workers and there's no reason why our community should not be able to produce skilled workers," he said.

This education model "doesn't cost taxpayers additional dollars" according to language in the law "the cost per student is moved from a traditional GDOE school to a charter school of choice."

"You have publicly funded independent schools that can provide an education and  I think this is very complimentary and certainly the trend," Camacho added.

Superintendent Jon Fernandez has previously advocated to separate GDOE's budget, claiming they lose out on money for public school students.

Though Dr. Judi Won Pat, administrator at Guahan Academy Charter School, says charter schools can be held responsible and work with the money they get.

"The charter schools are the only ones asked and held accountable," she said. "We have the lowest discipline problems in all middle schools we have high teacher self-esteem in spite of the fact that the per pupil cost at our school is low, the highest student self-esteem."

Conversions are not without challenges, says Juan Flores, an advocate for Career Tech and himself a former GDOE superintendent.

"While a conversion is a great idea there are some the first challenge I think removes choice on the part of the parents 'cause if you lived in Barrigada and their children were going to go to BP Carbullido," he said. "If, in fact, it became a charter school than the traditional curriculum you'd have no choice than to either have your child attend or you'd have to send your kids somewhere else."

Flores discussed with Senators the possibility of partial conversions, using only parts of public schools that are underutilized for charter schools.

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