GDOE receives federal support for school facility master plan

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

The United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) has recently awarded a contract to HHF Planners for the development of a School Facility Master Plan (FMP) for Guam Department of Education (GDOE) public schools.

The FMP will be funded by the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) through its All Buildings and Classrooms (ABCs) initiative. This initiative builds on an earlier comprehensive deferred maintenance review of all GDOE school facilities conducted by the USACE in 2013 and followed up with a Memorandum of Understanding executed in partnership with the Governor of Guam in 2015.

The purpose of the FMP is to guide the long-term development of schools in Guam. GDOE manages 41 K-12 public schools with an average enrollment of 30,000 students each school year. GDOE prepared its last master plan (Ten-Year Capital Facilities Plan) in June 1999 covering the 2000-2010 period.

The FMP will work with GDOE management and staff to build on the 1999 plan, as well as the 2013 USACE deferred maintenance assessment, to identify facility needs, gaps, and maintenance needs. It will also help to create a prioritization structure to ensure that projects are equitably selected across the island.

The project team will collect and analyze demographic data, project future enrollment, and identify existing facility and service gaps within the school district. The team will also conduct several workshops and work closely with stakeholders to define educational goals, gain key local insight, and develop recommendations and priorities for projects to address facilities needs for GDOE schools.

“This assistance from the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Insular Affairs is much needed and much appreciated, and we thank Insular and International Affairs Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech and OIA Director Nikolao Pula for their support,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said. “By helping set forth a comprehensive school facility master plan for GDOE, our federal partners can help us strengthen the case locally for a dedicated long-term funding stream that will allow us to upgrade and modernize our classrooms and school buildings. Right now, Guam’s financial and borrowing challenges prevent us from doing much more than short-term fixes. We need a longer-term investment for our children.”

Engagement with local stakeholders is expected to assist with the identification of issues and solutions for the students of Guam. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholder engagement will likely be conducted through virtual means. Stakeholder outreach is expected to include virtual community workshops, virtual open houses, surveys and interviews, and an interactive website.

“I am glad that our partners join me in the belief that stakeholder engagement is an important and critical element for the success of our planning process,” Fernandez said. “We look forward to working with our community on this project and engaging our students, employees, and families in this effort to address the facility needs of our school system.”

The final facility master plan report is expected to be completed in November 2021.