VIDEO: Latest Budget Bill Does Not Include Funds to Support a New High School

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Guam – Funding that would have allowed the Department of Education to open a central high school and support its other facilities was not included in the latest budget bill submitted by Governor Eddie Calvo. The Governor asked the legislature for the additional $5 Million dollars last week but didn’t include it in the new budget bill in the spirit of compromise.

“The governor has been moving forward as best he can in the spirit of compromise to get a budget bill passed,” the Governor’s Deputy Communications Director Phillip Leon Guerrero told PNC. “Unfortunately what we’re seeing from the legislature is the Governor’s priorities and the people’s priorities about health safety and education really aren’t reflected in their budget. Whats reflected is money for their pet projects at the sacrifice of education a new central high school a sacrifice of $10 million dollars to GMH which we know has a financial crisis right now and a sacrifice to the services in all of our government agencies that the people of Guam expect and the people of Guam deserve.”

The government is still committed to the lease for the Tiyan campus for another 10 years so a new use for the facility will have to be determined once the Untalan Middle School Wildcats return to their campus as early as next school year.

“I think in public law it says that it needs to be used for education purposes whether or not DOE can afford to make use of the those facilities I think is another question entirely,” Leon Guerrero said. “That’s exactly why Governor Calvo wanted to give $225 million dollars to the education department so they would have the financial flexibility to do what wanted with it.”

The Core-Tech facility has been used as a temporary campus for DOE schools for several years but a new lease agreement signed at the start of 2012 didn’t come with the full support of the legislature.

The latest agreement sets the rent at about 5 million dollars in tax credits a year. It also provides the government an option to purchase the facility through a lease to own deal but that option expires at the end of the year. Leon Guerrero said he wasn’t sure if the governor would pursue the lease-to-own option without the additional revenue for DOE but noted the current budget would make it difficult to operate a new school there.

“I think in order to open a central high school with the compromised budget for DOE that Governor Calvo included to try and garner support from the legislative majority for his budget, I think it would be a lot more financially challenging to do that” Leon Guerrero said.

Untalan Middle School has been using the Tiyan campus since their school in Barrigada was closed by public health in January of 2012. The facility was previously used by John F Kennedy High School while their campus was being rebuilt.

The latest budget proposals from the legislature and the Governor allocate $219,655,411 to DOE.