New charter school “SIFA” eyes Fall 2018 opening

2014

Guam – Guam could have a new charter school in place by next school year. At a legislative charter school roundtable discussion yesterday, Ron Ravella of SIFA said they’re aggressively planning to open in August.

SIFA, which stands for “Science Is Fun and Awesome,” is a STEAM-based charter school, concentrating on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

The school will be located in the former 911 building, behind the GACS elementary school. Ravella says they own six buildings in the area, a parking lot, a soccer field and the empty lot behind the Post Office.

Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks gave all the schools a cautionary tale, saying that when they performed the audit on iLearn, they discovered a “concentration of risk.” She says in excess of 90% of their budget comes from the General Fund, and that their risk is totally dependent on GovGuam for funding.

If the stipends are given out monthly, their operations would be challenged if that funding is delayed, Brooks adds. She noted that SIFA may not even be budgeted to start in August by the Legislature.

Governor’s Special Assistant for Education, Vince Leon Guerrero, said that although in historical perspective, the biggest hurdle for schools was budgeting for a fiscal year vs. the academic year, the strength of SIFA lies in their financial resources.

Leon Guerrero said when they open their doors in August, they’ll have their facility along with occupancy permits ready and they don’t need any GovGuam funding until the fiscal year begins in October.

He says based on the reduction of the GDOE budget, that pro-rata amount has been passed along to the existing charter schools, and both have managed to make adjustments.

Leon Guerrero says all charter schools have been given notice not to assume that the $6,500 per student will be on the next fiscal year’s budget. Given this information, he said “it’s up to them and their boards to determine whether they’re financially viable to move forward.”