DOE Attorney Gumataotao Says DOE Unlikely To Get More Money Because GovGuam Doesn’t Have It

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Guam – The Guam Department of Education needs $5 Million dollars by Saturday in order to keep its doors open on Monday. 

But according to BBMR, DOE should have enough money to get them through the end of this fiscal school year. According to a school board attorney Frank Gumataotao, DOE wont get the funds needed because GovGuam doesn’t have it.

Speaker Judy Won Pat Chair for the Committee of Education and the Department of Education met today to discuss DOE’s financial emergency.
Yesterday DOE Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Underwood declared a State of Emergency for the Guam Public Schools. Underwood says unless DOE received a minimum of $5 million dollars by Saturday, all public schools could shut down as soon as Monday,. According to Underwood, the $5 million would carry the agency to the end of this current fiscal year, which is September 30th.

According to DOE Deputy of Finance Taling Taitano, Thursday’s meeting with Speaker Won Pat contradicted issues that were discussed during last weeks round table discussion. Taitano says,  last week Won Pat told DOE to be careful about certifying funds that were beyond DOE’s allotment levels.  But the meeting focused on the public law that prohibits the governor from withholding allotments to DOE that would prevent the department from providing an adequate education for the children.

Taitano says, “Since this week we have asked our legal council to take a look at what is appropriate, do we certify based on the allotment the appropriation that was passed by the legislature, the budget law. or do we certify based on the allotment which is the appropriation less the reserve placed by BBMR. and that’s what are real dilemma is.”

According to Taitanos, DOE is seeking guidance from a legal counsel on what action they should take. According to Attorney Frank Gumataotao, the legal counsel for the School board, there are two parts to that analysis, the accounting side and the legal side. Gumataotao says, whether or not DOE is allowed to certify funds isn’t the issue, they are allowed to certify based on their appropriations.

Gumataotao says, “The real problem is wheres the money. The government is broke.  I really don’t think they will come up with the money for this shortfall.”

DOE was hoping to getting back the 3% that was taken away from them by BBMR. Earlier this year, BBMR took 3% of all the funds appropriated to all GovGuam agencies.

According to Gumataotao the 3% is an illusion because the money is not there. That was a way for our leadership to cover up the fact that there’s no money.”

Gumataotao says when island leaders say they will tap into next years money, it’s really an accounting trick.

Gumataotao says, “When you think about it next years funds, they are really not next year’s funds,  the new fiscal year is going to start in a couple of weeks.”

Guamtaotao feels that we will get to the end of this school crises but the end is not in sight. He says we have to learn to do more with less at DOE and the other GovGuam agencies.