VIDEO: Substitute F.Q. Sanchez Bill Approved, Rodriguez Amendment Requiring Funding Defeated

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Guam – Lawmakers brought in DOE Acting Superintendent Taling Taitano and board of education member Barry Mead to discuss the substituted version of Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr.’s bill 257 which was meant to keep F.Q. Sanchez elementary school in Umatac open. The substitute version does not have specific language mandating that the school be kept open but instead gives DOE the money needed to fund the school.

 

They began by hearing recommendations from Office of Finance and Budget Director Chris Budasi. “We know that they’re currently authorized at $205 million dollars the committee is recommending $216 million now this is inclusive of the school lunch program of $11 million dollars so if you take the $11 million off the $216 level the local funding that we’re recommending is 205 million compared to the 195 of the current appropriation level in bill 145 it’s a ten million dollar difference,” explained Budasi.

The governor’s proposed budget for DOE for fiscal year 2012 is $10 million dollars less than it was for fiscal year2011 so the Office of Finance and Budget proposed to raise it back up to that level in order to provide enough money for DOE to operate F.Q. Sanchez

Late this afternoon Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. introduced an amendment to the bill saying that the legislature must be clear in it’s intent with regards to keeping F.Q. Sanchez open. “Line twelve section 23 and I’ll read it, it says school to immediately re-open maintenance of personnel educational opportunities and resources for the school year 2011/2012 of the Guam Education Board shall ensure that F.Q. Sanchez elementary school has the requisite staffing pattern and resources as are necessary for the proper education of the children. upon the enactment of this act the geb shall additionally have the authority to explore and implement alternative measures to feasibly maintain the operations of the F.Q. Sanchez elementary school for school year 2011, 2012, 2013 and beyond.”

After this amendment was introduced several lawmakers reacted. Senator Palacios says this amendment goes beyond just the question of opening or closing a school but now deals with the autonomy of doe and the school board. “This is a defining moment that would define the nature and extent of the legitimacy of the board and what it can do and can not do and the current autonomy that the board enjoys,” said Senator Palacios.

Senator Aline Yamashita voiced her outright opposition to the amendment for similar reasons. “The statute is in place the board has made a decision the superintendent stands by her board and as a lawmaker I continue to stand by the law that has put the board of education in place and I think it needs to be clear that while some folks have decided that that decision was made because of money I stand by that decision because I really think that educationally it’s healthier for those students to be with a bigger community,” said Senator Yamashita.

Others like Senator Rory Respicio didn’t want to have to deal with the amendment at all because he feels that this bill in it’s current form accommodates everyone by providing DOE the money necessary to keep the school open while respecting DOE’s and the board’s autonomy. “Now I appreciate the valiant efforts of the mover of this amendment and rather than having to have anyone object to it I’m going to plead publicly that he withdraw it. That he withdraw it because it makes the statement that after all the work that’s been put into this bill after all the concerns that we believe have been addressed an amendment like this recognizes that in the end your school will remain closed,” ultimately when put to a vote senator Dennis Rodriguez’s amendment failed. As of news time lawmakers have yet to vote on the bill.