One solution to the 30-year-old issue plaguing our public school system gains momentum as the community chimes into the conversation of converting Chief Brodie Elementary School to a central middle school.
In attempts to provide relief for middle school students in Tamuning and surrounding villages, Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez shared details of their plans to retrofit Chief Brodie Elementary into a central middle school before community stakeholders during an outreach meeting held at the Tamuning campus.
“When the mayor and the municipal planning council asked us to look at a central middle school, the education board decided that we ought to give it a look. So the cost estimate for renovating Chief Brodie and converting it into a middle school is around $10 million,” the GDOE superintendent said.
According to Fernandez, the cost would be split between initial renovations such as canopy replacements, facility upgrades, improvements to parking, expanding the campus’ existing cafeteria and bringing restrooms up to middle school code. This will be a 10-month, 2-phase project, according to the superintendent.
“So, all in all, that amount comes to about $4.6 million dollars for the basic renovations, just to get up to be able to open up as a middle school, and then the remainder of that ranging from 4 to 6 million dollars was the gym,” Fernandez said.
However, there were also some concerns expressed during the meeting, particularly the plans for schools down south and the relocation of teachers currently at Chief Brodie.
“One of the issues that I know the vice speaker raised about a K-8 school is that it makes sense when you have low enrollment but you need to invest in facilities. And so that’s what we’ve been proposing to look at as a model for Jose Rios and possibly other southern schools,” one parent said.
And what of teachers under the collective bargaining agreement?
To this, Fernandez said that as confirmed with the union president, steps have been outlined to ensure that GDOE employees are given fair treatment and preference, in terms of placement, should the conversion of Chief Brodie begin.
At the end of the day, school officials remained steadfast in their plans to proceed with the project and to address the deeply-rooted concerns of the community.