Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson recently completed a series of meetings with Guam and U.S. Department of Education officials in Washington D.C. aimed at supporting the lifting of GDOE’s high-risk designation.
Vice Speaker Nelson first met with Congressman Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who is the chairperson of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, and a member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment.
“I met with Congressman Sablan to become more familiar with federal policies and programs that the Guam Department of Education can avail of in the future,” said Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson in a news release.
Vice Speaker Nelson along with GDOE representatives, including Superintendent Jon Fernandez, also met with U.S. Department of Education senior risk consultants Christine Jackson and Mark Robinson to discuss the lifting of the high-risk designation.
In a separate meeting, Guam’s delegate and Washington D.C. liaison joined Vice Speaker Nelson and GDOE representatives to further plead Guam’s case with Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan.
Vice Speaker Nelson shared with Assistant Secretary Brogan her Resolution No. 249-35, which is co-sponsored by 13 senators and was unanimously passed in the last session. The resolution is relative to supporting GDOE in its efforts to address its high-risk designation and specific conditions; and returning financial management and control over federal funds.
“The high risk designation has cost the people of Guam $2.5 million annually for a total of $25 million since 2010, but rather than using that money to pay a third-party fiduciary, it could be benefitting our schools and supporting our students,” Nelson said. “While that amount may not sound like much in Washington, we explained to Assistant Secretary Brogan – a former chancellor and president of three state university systems – what that funding could better be used for in smaller communities such as Guam. For us, that money could fund school renovations, bathroom upgrades, new walkway canopies, higher teacher pay and more.”
The senior risk consultants are expected to visit Guam early next year to assess the requirements for reconsideration of GDOE’s high-risk designation, which will be determined in July 2020. GDOE has stated that they will ensure the remaining requirements are fulfilled by December 2019.