Guam – A recently introduced legislation wants to introduce an equal approach to charter school applications without lifting or increasing the cap for charter schools as set in current statutes.
According to Bill 57-35, a legislation introduced by Senator James Moylan, its intent is not to create an infinite number of charter schools on Guam. Under the Guahan Academy Charter School Act of 2009, the total number of academy charter schools operating on Guam at any one time shall not exceed seven.
The legislation would streamline application requirements for new or converted academy charter schools on island by allowing the applicant to apply for either option. If the entity is able to accomplish the requirements outlined by converted schools, then they will be able to apply under that license. Otherwise the entity can apply as a new school and invest in its infrastructure.
Moylan said charter schools provide alternative options for families seeking a specific curriculum for their child or desire a smaller student to educator ratio while retaining a public school education.
While current law places the cap at seven, Guahan Academy Charter School chief academic officer Judi Won Pat said the quota has already been met and should be increased.
Meanwhile, Career Tech High Academy Charter School representative Steve McManus said they have been working for two years to open a charter school down south to service around 400 students.
“We want to remind you that in spite of the opposition, as Mr. Fernandez stated, to the proposed bill we are not asking the legislature to expand the current number of charter schools that is allowed in the 2009 act. It would still be within the seven charters school that the spirit of the law intended,” McManus said.
Won Pat pointed out that many school facilities are underutilized, which is something that concerns Senator Kelly Marsh-Taitano.
“One concern I have is if facilities are being under utilized and we are completely removing the need to create some increased ability to share a campus for partial conversion or conversion that there might be better ways to use a facility or funding,” Marsh said.
Moylan said they’re are also seeing schools seeking to add more vocational trades to their charter school curriculum. He said this provides students alternative options in terms of career choices.
Vice Speaker Telena Nelson said the legislature has introduced a bill to remove the authority of the Charter School Council to renew a charter. The bill would instead require charter schools to gain accreditation candidacy within six years.