Sanjay Sharma, President of GFT, met with Superintendent Jon Fernandez to discuss various issues regarding Guam Department of Education (GDOE) this week. Some of the discussion revolved around Standards-based Grading, AP courses, and steps to receive an Associate’s Degree at the University of Guam when taking rigorous classes in high school. The meeting also consisted of some discussion on later start times for high schools and changes to school attendance areas. The biggest concern, however, dealt with cost cutting of $19 million for GDOE. Sharma and Fernandez discussed some possible options of cutting $19 million, and Sharma feels that eliminating charter schools will preserve most of the operations of GDOE.
Simply put, the price of operating charter schools on Guam costs the government more than it can afford. GDOE has to manage the funding for its 41 schools and possibly up to 4 charter schools. Charter schools can cost the taxpayers $12 million a year, making this a luxury item that the island cannot afford. If the legislature is unable to close down charter schools during this period of cash shortfall, then the only viable option left might be to close down some public schools, overcrowd classrooms, and eliminate remedial and advanced placement courses. GDOE barely receives an adequate cash flow to maintain its operations; yet, charter schools still carve into the government’s budget to open additional buildings and burn through vital resources. The legislature can save public schools from its financial hardships by closing charter schools.