AUDIO: Speaker’s Weekly Address: Bill 257 Does Provide Funds to Keep F.Q. Sanchez Open

480

Guam – Speaker Judi Won Pat maintains in her Weekly Address that Bill 257 “provides the necessary funds to keep FQ Sanchez Elementary School open.”

Bill 257 does not specifically provide the funds to keep the school open and an amendment introduced by Senator Dennis Rodriguez to require that was defeated.

However, the Speaker points out that Bill 257 increases the Governor’s original request for DOE “from $196 million to $216 million” and a provision was included that would allow the Board of Education to explore and implement alternative measures to feasibly maintain the operations of F.Q. Sanchez …  as well as to permit the Governor of Guam to reopen the school through the issuance of an Executive Order in the event that the Board of Education votes to maintain its decision to close F.Q. Sanchez.”

The Speaker also announced her intention to “introduce legislation that would prevent similar occurrences of schools being closed in the future without advanced published notice and an opportunity for the affected communities to respond.”

READ the Speaker’s Weekly Address below or HEAR it by clicking on the link below:

august4.mp3

Hafa Adai my Dear People of Guam.

Yesterday, the Guam Legislature convened and voted unanimously to pass Substitute Bill257.  The bill provides the necessary funds to keep FQ Sanchez Elementary School open while also providing the necessary funding for all of GDOE. Specific provisions appropriated funding to GDOE for the payment of air conditioner equipment and maintenance of collateral equipment for George Washington High School, and for collateral equipment at Simon Sanchez High School, Southern High School, and Agueda Johnston Middle School.  Additionally, a provision was included that would allow the Board of Education to explore and implement alternative measures to feasibly maintain the operations of F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School, as well as to permit the Governor of  Guam to reopen the school through the issuance of an Executive Order in the event that the Board of Education votes to maintain its decision to close F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School.

The rationale given by DOE officials to close F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School was based on a number of factors inclusive of the high per pupil cost, recommendations from the 2009 Evergreen Report, and safety issues.

Herein rest the greatest challenge: enacting legislation that would reopen F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School at a level of operation that was both feasible to suit the needs of those served by the school and equitable for the tens of thousands of other students served by DOE throughout the island.

The Guam Legislature agrees with the governor’s assertion that education is priceless. In fact, the Guam Legislature took it a step further by increasing the governor’s budget request for DOE from $196 million to $216 million based on further evaluation and research conducted by the Office of Finance and Budget under the leadership of former Speaker Ben Pangelinan.

At the end of the day and after much debate we achieved bipartisan support to approve an increased budgeted amount for GDOE and measures that empower the Board of Education with the tools and resources necessary to open F.Q. Sanchez Elementary School thereby preserving the integrity of the board and the dignity of the families and students served at FQ Sanchez Elementary School.

Substitute Bill 257 will now be transmitted to the governor for action and I thank the broader community for stepping  forward to be a part of this great public discourse.

The next step is to introduce legislation that would prevent similar occurrences of schools being closed in the future without advanced published notice and an opportunity for the affected communities to respond, and that would further preclude the closure of any school at 60 days or less prior to the commencement of  the new school year.  I will be including in the draft legislation provisions that will address the future opening and closing of schools, the rehabilitation and utilization of school facilities, and the disposition of  real or personal property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.

Saina Ma’ase.