Guam Education Board faces quorum issues

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“This makes us inefficient as a board. We have 32K students to serve on this island, and we need to be better than this,” –GEB Member Ron McNinch.

Guam – Despite a heavy agenda, the Guam Education Board tabled their monthly meeting due to a lack of quorum.

The quorum issues began when GEB member Lou San Nicolas questioned fellow member Ron McNinch’s ability to call in to the meeting due to board policy. The board’s policy essentially prohibits members from teleconferencing if the member is on island. Mr. McNinch was awaiting transit at the airport.

“I want to point this out not against his desire to participate but because several months ago, I requested that I [call in]. I could not be outside my house, but I wanted to participate in the discussion,” recalls San Nicolas.

McNinch retorted: “This was a planned trip. There’s no surprise expectation. I requested well-in advance of this meeting for this accommodation. There should be no question that this is a directly travel-related, off-island exception that I’m requesting.”

This put the board in a quorum quandary. Without enough members, the board could no longer vote on much-needed issues they needed to address. And after nearly half an hour of debate on the subject, Acting Board Chairman Mark Mendiola concluded the meeting.

The board had come prepared to vote on several agenda items. Some items such as pending legislation, budget updates, training, and other events are fast approaching.

To postpone the meeting to December would mean these items would not be discussed in a public matter nor would they be voted on unless a make-up session was scheduled.

Superintendent Jon Fernandez drafted a five page report that covered everything from safety, to curriculum and fiscal management. He was not the only one who came prepared to present either. A representative from the Mayors Council, IBOG Student Council, Guam Federation of Teachers, and the Head Start Program are also present during the meetings. Each one had to leave due to the lack of quorum.

“I’m concerned about waiting long for dealing with routine items on our agenda,” noted McNinch. “This makes us inefficient as a board. We have 32K students to serve on this island, and we need to be better than this.”

Nonetheless, a special meeting was tentatively scheduled for December 7. The board has also expressed their desire to potentially amend the current teleconference policy.