GEB votes to close FQ. Sanchez Elementary
by Krystal Paco
Guam - After months of debate, the Guam Education Board voted to shut down F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School due to underutilization. By a majority of its members the Guam Education Board voted to close down the Umatac school.
The question of whether the school should be shutdown has been lingering for a couple years now after an independent audit was conducted by Evergreen Solutions, which determined $1.3 million could be saved if the southern campus closed it doors.
Today's decision was much different from the one the board made previously. Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood, "During the last meeting at Untalan Middle School, Barry Mead had made the motion that F.Q. Sanchez would be kept open, with the caveat that the superintendent and the principal go back and rework the budget and make the budget of F.Q. Sanchez economical."
In order to adjust the budget, the school's nurse, librarian, and guidance counselor had to be cut to keep costs down. The Guam Education Board, however, felt eliminating these positions would negatively impact students and would be in contravention to the Every Child Deserves an Adequate Education Act.
They were cuts that eventually led to the five newly appointed GEB members voting to close the school-while the three elected members voted against it. The news of the closure was met by opposition by Umatac residents, Mayor Dean Sanchez feels his village is being segregated from the rest of the school system. He told KUAM News, "The cost merely is not F.Q. Sanchez. It's divided amongst the entire school system. And that's what we also testified on. That F.Q.Sanchez is not the responsible school that causes the shortfall of their budget."
Acting F.Q. Sanchez Assistant Principal Silvino Quinene also feels the school is being segregated because it's a small community, saying, "What I would like to see happening is that the rights of the community are not sacrificed because of the majority. Umatac being a small community. But that Umatac work with the entire island and the political leaders, the system, to try to find how we can come to something. If it's not necessarily keeping the school open. It's a very sad day for the village of Umatac. But these residents say they won't give up without a fight."
"We don't want to go anywhere," said Umatac resident Frank Acfalle. "We don't want to go to any other school but to stay in this school. We're calling on the governor, our senators, who have promised that they will not close this school down regardless and it's all about money."
Acfalle has two grandchildren that attend the school. He, along with other concerned parents gathered at the campus in protest. "It's like they don't want to listen to us. They don't care about Umatac. And like I said, it is very, very unfair, very unjustice for our children. And this I promise, when the school opens, none of our children are going anywhere. We're gonna stay right here until somebody does something about it," he said.
"Every kid deserves an education," said Mayor Sanchez. "No matter where they live."
The less than 100 students that attend F.Q. Sanchez Elementary will now report to Merizo Elementary in the fall.