Delegate, San Agustin Offers Mixed Views on Public School Funding | Guam News
Guam’s delegate to the House of Representatives is concerned that local authorities are cutting local funding for education because federal funds have been made available to them for the pandemic.
Guam’s Department of Education will receive nearly $ 287 million in critical aid for the US bailout.
Senator Joe San Agustin, chair of the legislative appropriations committee, responded that senators must create a budget that meets the needs of the Guam Department of Education as well as the rest of the government. In addition, budget discussions must take into account the federal funding received, much of which is aimed at ensuring safe schools and meeting the needs of students as they plan to reopen classrooms in the next year. school.
“If Congressman (Michael) San Nicolas says we need to fund them as much as possible, then yes, I’m okay with that,” San Agustin said. “But not 100% of what they’re asking for (because) the DOE is asking for $ 375 million of the $ 757 million in the general fund. What do we have left? How are we going to manage the police service… and public health? “
San Nicolas said the political mantra is often to make education a priority “while systematically underfunding primary and post-secondary education.”
“Now that we have significant federal funding on top of our initial local commitments, we can no longer use lack of resources as an excuse, and we shouldn’t suddenly turn our backs on education at a time when we should do our best, foot forward, ”said San Nicolas.
“We are in direct communication with our education officials, working with them to expand opportunities that we have never had before, and we encourage President San Agustin to protect our local education funding in the interest of our future, our educators and our schoolchildren. ”
San Nicolas noted that GDOE is “regularly underfunded” and that this has “led to serious shortcomings in our teaching and learning environments with deferred maintenance, and the risk of non-compliance with public law 28 -45, “Every child has the right to an adequate program. Public Education Act. “
He said GDOE students have historically gone without textbooks or even toilet paper.
“Our University of Guam students have also seen inflexible tuition fee increases, and our Guam Community College has had to forgo opportunities to expand with local funding just to try and keep things going.” , said San Nicolas.
Balance the needs of all agencies
San Agustin acknowledged that GDOE typically does not get all the money it asks for, but noted that the request typically accounts for a large portion of the total government budget.
GDOE has submitted a budget request of $ 373 million for fiscal year 2022, which begins October 1. It had a similar demand last year, but was only allocated $ 208 million.
“The average is still over $ 200 million and they’ve survived,” San Agustin said. “Of course, they hadn’t received their textbooks before, but what can they do now like repair the schools?”
He said that a question that needs to be asked of GDOE is “are they doing what they’re supposed to be doing?”
“This is the third round of federal funds they have to make schools safe… and make sure they are able to open?” San Agustin said.
San Agustin, who is a former member of the Guam Board of Education, said a number of the deferred maintenance items that had been noted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers more than 10 years had not all been covered, however, federal funding related to the pandemic has some overlap. The list of necessary repairs compiled by the Army Corps of Engineers had an aggregate value of nearly $ 100 million.
Among those issues were repairs to water fountains and toilets, San Agustin said.
“Did they replace the old water fountains that we never could get enough money to fix?” he said. “Are they ordering enough textbooks and computers because of (distance) learning?”
San Agustin said he would work with colleagues in the Legislature, heads of GCC, UOG, charter schools and other stakeholders to determine funding for education and other operations. government.