Charter school council transition discussed

The charter schools council work session tackled transition matters in the wake of the resignation of chairwoman Amanda Blas.

How would quorum be met at the Guam Academy Charter School Council? What would be the fate of iLearn Academy’s charter renewal? Where would seven years of charter school documents be housed? And who would be held accountable for charter school finances should they be separated from the Guam Department of Education? Those are only a few of the issues discussed during yesterday’s charter schools council work session.

In light of the resignation of Charter School Council Chairwoman Amanda Blas effective this Friday, several issues would have to be addressed, the first of which is the seven years worth of charter school documentation that is currently in the hands of the outgoing chairwoman. And with the council lacking funding, facilities and an office, Blas is forced to turn elsewhere.

“Because like I said, we have full responsibility. We have seven boxes so far and so I’d like to make sure that they are in a public space whether it be at central files in Adelup or whether it be through the assistance of the legislature, I would just like to have those documents safeguarded unless anyone on the council would like to take over,” Blas said.

With no one on the council volunteering to assume responsibility for the documents, Blas plans to write a letter to oversight chair, Vice Speaker Telena Nelson, for assistance in finding temporary storage space until a more permanent home is identified.

But that isn’t all that the council is faced with, especially with two bills pertaining to charter schools.

Bill 106 seeks to separate charter schools and the Guam Department of Education while Bill 107 seeks to extend the charter renewal time frame from five years to six. One of the concerns brought up by Blas, was the ripple effect of the separation, such as eliminating GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez’s position from the Charter School Board, a presence that she says helps the council meet quorum.

The chairwoman, as well as iLearn Academy Charter School Chief Operations Officer Helen Nishihira expressed concern over their inability to hold quorum, most especially with a charter renewal coming up.

“The only big concern for iLearn is that renewal date. Unless Bill 107 passes, then our target for renewal is still this coming November. With Bill 107, I’m technically ok with the five years. But the thing is, with issues with quorum, six years would actually buy us time until the council settles down,” Nishihira said.

Chairwoman Blas also brought up the issue of fiscal accountability, most especially with the separation of charter schools from GDOE, resulting in the loss of GDOE’s internal auditor validation process.

Blas also reminded the council, that Bill 106 does not guarantee that the responsibility over accountability will not fall into the council’s shoulders. The outgoing chairwoman said they would need additional administrative and financial support for this.

The soon-to-be former charter school chair added that upon her departure, there will be two positions open for those with a background in finance as well as a retired teacher’s position that has yet to be filled.