GACS: Tiyan campus overcrowded and inadequate

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“The Funding formula for charters presents a significant obstacle. Because they receive funding only for operations, not facilities, all charter schools struggle to secure a space to call home.” – GACS FY 2017 Annual Report

Guam – At the last work session for Guahan Academy Charter School, a frustrated Fe Ovalles spoke out against the allegations of financial and procurement misconduct.

As the Board of Trustee Chairwoman, Ovalles took exception to the revealing risk assessment from the Internal Audit Office and the scathing review of the board’s finances.

But now that GACS has been granted more time to address the report, how are they answering to some of the questionable practices raised in the assessment?

One of the forms of response is the annual report they are required to submit to the Charter School Council.

The 56 page document addresses everything from assessments to financial policies.

There is also the FY 2016 Independent Audit and Financial Report. In the report, GACS explains the challenges they face with their present facilities, saying: “The Funding formula for charters presents a significant obstacle. Because they receive funding only for operations, not facilities, all charter schools struggle to secure a space to call home.”

Meanwhile, Vince Leon Guerrero, the Governor’s Special Assistant assigned to oversee the charter schools contends that this issue only reveals poor planning.

“In the beginning, their struggles to find a facility was not just identifying an appropriate place, but also struggling on how they would be able to pay for the lease and or purchase of a facility to house their school,” Leon Guerrero explains.

GACS contends that the Tiyan building they were allowed to use by the government has no elevators, no lifts, and fails to meet the adequacy of rising student enrollment.

However, Leon Guerrero tells PNC that the facility was never meant to adequately house 1,015 students. By law, charter school funding is capped at 740 students only, but GACS argued that this does not deter the school from accepting additional students –provided funding is supplied outside the legislature.

It was later revealed that GACS acquired the additional 275 students simply to meet the mortgage/lease payments of the new facility.

“How can you offer a high school program when the facility that you have is sized for a maximum of 520 students? What landlord that owns such a facility is only going to charge you for the amount that you need for every single year that you grow your enrollment? It does not exist. There’s no such thing,” argued Leon Guerrero.

The governor’s special assistant argued that no other charter school has faced the same facility issues as GACS has acquired.

The report says GACS is now entering into negotiations for two buildings in Tiyan pending the legislature’s approval of the controversial student enrollment of 1,015 students.

Meanwhile, the Guam Academy Charter Schools Council will conduct a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, November 20, 2017 in the Department of Parks and Recreation Conference Room, Paseo Stadium, Hågatña, Guam.