Charter schools prepare for GovGuam revenue loss

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Guam – Yesterday, the Guam Academy Charter School Council approved the FY19 budget proposals for three charter schools with one charter school facing conditional approval.

In addition, the council approved student enrollment caps for Academic Year 2018 through 2019.

For Guahan Academy Charter School, the enrollment is capped to 873 students while iLearn Academy’s cap is set to 620. Sifa Academy was capped at 350 students, and Career Tech Academy was conditionally approved for 200.

Viewers may recall that local funding caps student enrollment for GACS at 740 and iLearn at 500, but according to Council Chairwoman Amanda Blas, enrollment does not officially begin for most charters until October. Meaning, if charters cannot find additional funding for the student surplus, they have the ability to wait list students.

And in lieu of the government-wide revenue loss from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, agencies are being tasked to cut spending as early as this fiscal year.

With this in mind, the charter council has spent additional work sessions and held special meetings to work with the individual charter schools on their budget proposals.

At present, the charter schools’ funding is tied to the appropriation of the Department of Education. DOE has already been asked to identify $19 million worth of budget cuts for this year alone.

And in the following year, about $27 million will need to be slashed from DOE’s overall budget. With this financial climate looming over GDOE, each and every expenditure is bound to face an added level of scrutiny.

In the past, Guahan Academy Charter School in particular has had to address controversial expenditures—namely, its $10,000 board retreat last spring held at the Dusit Thani Resort. A risk assessment from DOE identified over $400,000 in unvalidated invoices.

When pressed for comment, GACS’s Board Chairwoman Fe Ovalles assured Council Chairwoman Amanda Blas at a special work session that GACS would do everything in their power to work with a “bare bones” budget.

And GACS would not be alone in this regard. According to Council Chairwoman Blas, each charter has been asked to submit an action plan to address the current financial climate.