Guam Education Board Delays Decision on School Decommissioning

Guam Education Board delays school decommissioning decision to 2025, focuses on addressing double sessions and ensuring quality education facilities for students.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Guam Education Board Delays Decision on School Decommissioning

Guam Education Board Delays Decision on School Decommissioning

The Guam Education Board has voted to delay the deadline for making a decision on school decommissioning or closures from April 30, 2024 to before January 2025. The board prioritized addressing the issue of double sessions in schools, where students from different schools are sharing campuses, over rushing decisions on school decommissioning.

Board members acknowledged the need for school decommissioning due to declining student enrollment, but said the process should not be rushed as it would affect many people and cause chaos. They also cited budgetary constraints as a reason to delay, as the department's budget for fiscal 2025 has already been submitted based on the current 41 schools.

The board will continue gathering input from community members and aims to finalize the decision on school decommissioning by January 2025, before the department's budget is due. In the meantime, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) has successfully addressed deficiencies identified in March 2023 monitoring reports from the Office of Head Start (OHS).

The corrective actions completed by March 5, 2024 signify a milestone in ensuring the quality and safety of educational environments for young learners. The local Head Start program faced potentially losing federal funding if the deficiencies were not addressed, which included ensuring students were supervised at all times, Head Start areas were properly fenced and secure, and water was safe from lead contamination.

A federal review team visited Guam from March 6 to March 8 to review documentation, interview relevant parties, and observe the corrected areas. The Guam Head Start Program has received the final Program Performance Summary Reports from the follow-up federal review, and OHS has closed all previously identified findings. However, OHS expects the projects related to outdoor play areas to be completed and will be closely monitoring the progress.

Why this matters: The decision to delay school decommissioning comes at a critical time as Guam faces challenges in its public power supply until the Ukudu Power Plant comes online around September 2025. The successful addressing of Head Start deficiencies ensures continued federal funding and quality education for young learners on the island.

The Guam Education Board's decision to delay school decommissioning until January 2025 allows more time for community input and budgetary planning. GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez stated, "We want to make sure we are making the best decisions for our students and our community. Rushing the process could lead to unintended consequences." The board remains committed to addressing the issue of double sessions and ensuring all students have access to quality education facilities.

Key Takeaways

  • Guam Education Board delays school decommissioning decision to before Jan 2025.
  • Board prioritizes addressing double sessions over rushed decommissioning decisions.
  • GDOE successfully addressed Head Start program deficiencies, securing federal funding.
  • Decommissioning delay allows more community input and budget planning.
  • Board committed to ensuring all students have access to quality facilities.