Guahan Academy Charter School to defend five year renewal

Guahan Academy Charter School (PNC file photo)

Guam – Time is running out for the Guahan Academy Charter School as they prepare to go before the Guam Charter School Council to plead their case for a five year renewal of their charter.

At a PTO meeting last night, members of the charter schools Board made a surprise appearance, and the topic of accreditation and renewal of the school came into question.

GACS has made numerous headlines in the past five years of their operation. A late start to the school year, health and safety violations, notice of eviction, outstanding vendor payments, pay less paydays and the exposed frivolous spending on a board retreat have overshadowed the accomplishments of the students attending the charter school.

Dean Mary Mafnas took the backstage for a greater part of the meeting, stating that the Legislators have had enough of hearing from her.

However, Mafnas took the front stage to comment on the struggles the school has faced in securing accreditation in just five years, going so far as to state later on in the meeting that the University of Guam needed 15 years to become accredited.

“But like Mrs. Manibusan says, yes accreditation is important, but right now we want to have a school, we want the council to approve our application for renewal for another five years. Once we get past that hurdle, we can start working on accreditation, talking to the senators, talking to whoever wrote up that bill, to change the law because five years is not enough to be considered to be accredited,” said Mafnas

A concerned parent asked whether or not the schools history of financial mismanagement allegations and the accreditation teams withholding of the schools candidacy for accreditation, amongst other concerns, would affect the charter schools renewal.

In a roundabout answer, Board of Trustees Liaison, Marilyn Manibusan shared her unique perspective on the situation.

“Now, would all of this affect the charter renewal? Only the compliance people can answer that. I don’t believe it should. As I look at a glass half full, you may look at a glass as half empty. It’s a mindset of other people who are on the other side,” said Manibusan.

An anonymous tip to PNC about a recent pay less payday brought into question the financial status of the charter school.

Board Members made it known that the school is not in a financial crisis, that in fact they have $1.7 million in their account.

The pay less pay day they say, is the result of inaction by the Department of Administration, and that checks were not validated until Thursday, in which case checks were not released until Friday after 4 p.m., too late for a direct deposit which resulted in teachers being paid on Monday.

A frustrated Manibusan alluded to possible harassment by the Guam Department of Education.

“And so, somehow I don’t know, I don’t have any reason to think that…but it’s beginning to feel like it could be selective harassment or something, I don’t know. But that’s the…employees got paid late because of the process,” said Manibusan.

The charter school will face the Guam Charter School Council on May 16 to defend the school and argue for their five year renewal.

Banners and posters are expected to be on full display, as during the meeting the Board members revealed their plan of action to appeal to the council.

Pleading with the parents, the Board asked that the parents consider their child’s future, to set aside fears they may have of attending the meeting, and to provide testimony in support of the school.

The meeting will take place Wednesday, May 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Legislature’s Public Hearing Room.