GDOE facing $18-million budget shortfall

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Guam -The Guam Department of Education is projected to face a shortfall of $18 million in 2019, according to the transition report prepared for the Leon Guerrero/Tenorio administration.

The department has a budget of $219.9 million with $10.4 million reserved for charter schools, while its projected expenditures are estimated at $238.3 million.

“We would note, the $238 million baseline projected expenditures have been adjusted and already include such cuts including 5 percent fewer on-call substitute teachers; further postponement of Pre-Kindergarten or Early Child Education expansion; foregoing local procurement on SPED buses; minimal overtime to address emergency school facilities’ needs and staff shortages; and over $3 million in reductions of scale and scope of critical school maintenance services and contracts, and supplies associated with central operations,” the report states.

Also of concern is a shortage in qualified manpower for GDOE. The transition committee found that as of Nov. 28, 2018, vacant positions included a total of 93 non-teacher positions, 36 teacher positions and 16 substitute teachers.

When former Attorney General Elizabeth Barret-Anderson ruled that the Calvo administration’s hiring freeze policy was “inorganic,” DOE resumed its efforts to fill the most critical positions. However, the department’s recruitment attempts were barred by a lack of certified applicants and a nonexistent hiring pool.

To address the looming budget deficit, the transition committee recommends public-private partnerships that allow long-term land leases for school facilities. The committee also recommends that charter schools be delinked from GDOE budget and broader enforcement authority/accountability be built with regard to the charter school budget. The committee also recommends providing stronger support for the Guahan Charter Council, allowing educational entities to manage their budgets and determine priorities for expenditures within their appropriation.