Guam – In his Weekly Address, Governor Eddie Calvo takes Guam DOE to task for failing to take advantage of the opportunity to cut costs.
The Governor says he always intended to release the 15% he had ordered held in reserve for DOE. But he says he is disappointed with DOE for not taking advantage of the opportunity to cut its costs while the 15% reserve was being held back.
“It seems as though the Department of Education believes that it’s immune from the financial woes plaguing every agency,” states the Governor. Adding “I’ve asked of DOE the same thing I’ve asked of every agency: put some money aside, be frugal… But DOE didn’t even make an attempt to try.”
He called DOE’s failure to cut spending “disheartening” and he asked DOE leadership “Did you do all you could to spend more money in the classroom instead of on payroll?”
HEAR the Governor’s Weekly Address HERE>>>03-26-12 weekly_1-2.mp3
READ the Governor’s Weekly Address below:
It’s Time to Start Putting Students First
By Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
Hafa Adai my fellow Guamanians,
The past couple of weeks held for me a whirlwind of different events on every scale.
I met with leaders from throughout our region during the 17th Micronesian Chief Executives’ Summit to discuss ways to improve the quality of life for our region’s communities, I visited with the men and women of our Guam National Guard about to make their way to Afghanistan to protect our nation; we broke ground for three different projects totaling more than eighteen million dollars, giving struggling families in the Gil Baza Subdivision a better road to their homes and improving the capacity of this community’s lifeline of commerce at the Port Authority; and I had the privilege to swear in the newest members of GPD’s volunteer police officers who will put their lives on the line to protect our people,
I’m confident and enthusiastic that this community is on the right track. It feels good to know that good things are happening. But even as I celebrated these initiatives with our hardworking GovGuam employees, I still must confront the challenges of a cash-strapped government.
Like the old saying goes: it’s almost as if we are taking one step forward and two steps back…
Last year, I, along with your lieutenant governor and our senior staff, cut our salaries to help make ends meet. I directed every member of my cabinet to reduce spending in their agencies, save energy costs and get creative with ways to get things done. I’ve asked them to improve the services of the government of Guam with less and I’m proud of all they’ve done.
But, it seems as though the Department of Education believes that it’s immune from the financial woes plaguing every agency today. I’ve asked of DOE the same thing I’ve asked of every agency: put some money aside, be frugal with the resources you have and remember that there simply isn’t enough money to go around.
You see, what’s different about DOE is that I always intended to release a portion of its reserves. I simply wanted its leaders to find unnecessary costs and reinvest those savings into the classroom. We know that there are unneeded expenses at DOE, and know that this money can best be used to help students and teachers.
But DOE didn’t even make an attempt to try.
The fifteen percent reserve I’ve implemented throughout the government is not money I intend to keep for myself or another agency – it’s simply a financial management tool to help agency leaders understand that they have a duty to you to spend your money wisely. It’s a critical duty we’re forced to fulfill because of bad budgets and runaway spending from the past three years.
Simply pouring more money into DOE without regard to current cash challenges and accountability may just encourage more runaway spending… That’s why I’m now requiring DOE to give me the details of what they’ve spent, what they will spend and how they’ll prioritize the remainder of cash into classrooms.
I plead with DOE’s managers right now:
Almost every GovGuam agency is doing more with less, it’s time you start doing the same. Give more money to students and teachers in the classrooms. Put more of the money into the schools.
Instead of using funds to purchase books or science equipment, more than thirteen million taxpayer dollars go toward paying salaries every month. While teachers are reaching into their pockets to buy classroom supplies, officials from DOE continue to put their top-notch salaries above the needs of children. They’ve hired more employees to draw paychecks from the largest government-funded agency – and those aren’t teachers, and they’ve been taking more trips.
This is nothing short of disheartening. Before DOE leaders cry out for the release of these funds – I must ask: did you do all you could to spend more money in the classroom instead of on payroll? Did you repair or replace air conditioners before you hired more personnel? Did you ask yourselves if you could do with a little less in your pocket books so students could have a little bit more in their classrooms?
It is our duty to ensure that every child receives an education that is nothing less than stellar. Leadership comes with a strong vision for the future. Will your vision for education today help our children succeed in the future?
If we want our island – our people – to thrive, we must first give them the necessary tools to succeed. Our mission rests in the classroom. It’s time to truly start putting students first.
To the teachers and principals who spend every day with our children: thank you for all you do for our children, and Guam’s future.
May God guide us through all these challenging times, and may he continue to bless you and your families.