Guam (Thurs. Oct. 24) – Two weeks after challenging island leaders to “Walk in the shoes of a shark” Simon Sanchez High School seniors are demanding that something be done about the conditions of their school.
Leave Your Mark Project Co-Leader Tyler K. Flores says she wants to make sure her sister has a nicer facility than her when she gets to high school.
“I don’t want her to have to deal with really tight crowded hallways and flooding and having the issues of having something fall on her,” Flores told PNC explaining that a light fixture fell from the ceiling in one of her classrooms last year.
Superintendent Jon Fernandez was back on the Yigo campus this morning, along with DOE consultants Coe Val, to determine how much it would cost to renovate the school’s restrooms and locker room showers. While the possibility of building a new school for the sharks is not off the table Fernandez told the students that he wants to explore all the options.
“What we’re going to do with that information is we wanna make sure we look at the options for re-furbishing and renovating the building and also look at the issues of a new building,” Fernandez said. “We don’t want to scratch off any options.”
Omega Safety Compliance Asia Pacific President Bill Shippey was also on the campus today, on an invitation from Leave Your Mark Advisor SSHS Teacher Gretchen Andres. Shippey has a son and a daughter enrolled at the school and was also part of the team that did an assessment of the school in 2001. He pointed out that temporary exit doors put up around that time were still there, he also said exit signs were missing from a number of doorways.
“There are parts of the building that are falling down,” Shippey added. “Those things don’t take a lot of money to fix just take it down, do it. Do something but doing nothing is waiting for something to happen.”
Superintendent Fernandez says he’s willing to talk with Shippey to make sure safety issues are addressed in the short term. Fernandez also told students that he’s willing to work with them to determine a long term plan for the school using funds from recently passed legislation, that sets aside new property tax revenue for the school.
“If we’re talking about 12 months when the money will start to come in, over the next you know few months we’re going to have to start putting in place” Fernandez said. “
Students said their top priorities are getting restroom issues addressed., working air conditioners installed, and new awnings in place. They’re confident that they’ve made those priorities known to the Superintendent.
“I am actually really glad we did this because it’s getting somewhere” Flores told PNC.
On October 11th elected leaders and other public officials were invited to “Walk in the shoes of a Shark” by attending classes and eating lunch on the campus. Shortly after the challenge, Senator Dennis Rodriguez wrote a letter to the Governor asking that a state of emergency be declared for the school so that additional resources could be made available. Superintendent Fernandez today told PNC that while there are urgent safety concerns at the campus he believes they can be addressed without a state of emergency being declared.