Could 26 charter school students have to change schools?
There is a dilemma facing Guahan Academy Charter School, as after enrolling roughly 630 students for this school year, it received a notification from the Guam Legislature saying it is in violation of public law. According to school principal Mary Mafnas, it wasn't until after she had sent a letter asking the Guam Legislature to increase the student cap from 600 to 630 that she received the letter from Senator Nerissa Underwood.
Mafnas said, "I got the letter from her saying that I was in violation 08 and then I responded to that letter." Mafnas responded by saying the school would no longer enroll any more students, or fill withdrawals, in an effort to bring enrollment as close to the required 600 as possible. But what does that mean for the additional 26 students who have already completed their first two weeks of school? Council chair Rosa Palomo told KUAM News, "The Legislature is saying that we're in violation of the law."
Administrators noted the main problem is that the school calendar year and fiscal year don't coincide. Because the Guahan Academy Charter School was expecting a cap of 640 students, as indicated by the Guam Academy Charter School Council in January, it enrolled during the summer months accordingly. However the Legislature's cap of 600 students was finalized on Monday.
Senator Underwood said, "The budget law clearly states that they are capped at 600 and the responsibility of meeting the needs of those students lie right there, with the administrators who have allowed students to enroll beyond 600, and also with the board of trustees."
Underwood said she is concerned about the effect exceeding the cap may have on students. Meanwhile Guahan Academy noted it will try to absorb the additional students using the funding allocated, rather than asking student to disenroll and change schools.