Guam – The Guam Department of Education plans on asking for $20-million dollars more in funding for fiscal year 2012 than they asked for last year.
In Fiscal Year 2011, DOE asked for about $267 million, this year the school system is planning to ask for $288 million. An increase of just over $20 million.
But Budget Committee Chair Ben Pangelinan responds that DOE is really asking for $100-million more dollars than what they received in this year’s budget.
Guam DOE has not yet submitted its formal budget request but Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Underwood told PNC News that the school system has been struggling to get by with $80 million less than what they asked for last year. And the increase they plan on submitting this year is justified by increased costs.
Among the costs to justify the increase Dr. Underwood said “the $20 million, actually takes into account the Hay increase which is more than $5 million. And then we also have an increase in text books which is $8.5 million. We also want to pay for the teacher furloughs which is court ordered and that is about $4.1 million. And then their are the prior period requests and obligations which is $2.2 million.”
However Senator Pangelinan doesn’t look at it that way. Even though Guam DOE asked for $267 million last year, the Legislature approved a budget of just under $184 million. So what DOE plans on asking for this year, says Pangelinan, is nearly $100 million more than what was approved in their current budget.
“I think Superintendent Underwood has to change her perspective,” said Pangelinan.
The Budget Committee Chair pointed out that last year, despite a difficult fiscal situation, they were able to increase funding to DOE from the prior year and the legislature will continue to work with DOE to provide additional funds this year, but “it won’t be $100 million,” said Pangelinan.
The deadline for DOE to submit its budget is next Monday, January 30th.
Senator Pangelinan says DOE has asked for an extension in submitting the budget, but they won’t get an extension either says Pagelinan because the deadline is set by law and can not be changed, although amendments can be added later.