Will Tamuning get a new central middle school at Chief Brodie Elementary, or will the campus be converted into a kindergarten through 8th grade model?
The idea of committing to a strict middle school model for Tamuning has been a call by the community for nearly 30 years, and for the last two years, the Guam Department of Education and the Guam Education Board have engaged in developing a plan to move the idea forward.
But Vice Speaker Telena Nelson believes that before they commit to it, more exploration is needed. She has suggested converting Chief Brodie Elementary School into a kindergarten through 8th grade educational facility.
But GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said student populations should also be taken into consideration.
“Now if we’re talking about an 850 to 900 student campus, we have to go back to the drawing board and just really see if that’s possible,” Fernandez said.
He added: “One of the issues is the cost issue with regard to what it would take to fit, you know, a certain number of students. It’s probably going to be a higher population. Then, what would it mean for the students who attend … whether they would feed into that middle school or into the high school based on that new plan.”
In a letter she wrote to the superintendent, Vice Speaker Nelson, the education oversight chair, expressed her concern over the allotted timeframe for the conversion and the potential effect that would have on various stakeholders. She has proposed that GDOE and the education board take a look at a K through 12th grade model.
Meanwhile, Fernandez projects it will take 10 months to convert the elementary school to a middle school.
“So the decision would be, are we able to make immediate changes to allow that work to take place? This might require us to start the realignment of the elementary school this coming school year and that would be pretty quick. So we’re already gathering information from our first informational meeting and we’ll respond to this letter as well. I’m open to ideas anyway to resolve the issue. I’m glad that she’s thinking about K-8 options because that will help us think strategically down the road for some of our southern schools that need facility improvements,” Fernandez said.
Chief Brodie’s full conversion is estimated to cost $10 million and would be completed in phases. The conversion involves converting the current amenities like restrooms and the cafeteria to meet middle school standards and then constructing a gymnasium for the Tamuning campus.
With a second option for Chief Brodie now on the table, GDOE encourages stakeholders to join in on the conversation next week Thursday, June 20, at the Tamuning Community Center and then on July 10 at the Dededo Community Center.
Vice Speaker Nelson said: “At the end of the day, we have to ensure we are allowing our community the right and privilege of having their voices heard in this discussion. Families across several villages will feel the impact of this conversion. They deserve an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with those making the decisions.”