Guam Superintendent of Education Jon Fernandez and the Guam Education Board (GEB) are advocating in the legislature for more funding. In a meeting Friday, February 21, Superintendent Fernandez and the GEB presented the Fiscal Year 2021 budget to the Guam Legislature.
In January, the GEB approved a $365,019,030 FY budget request for the DOE. That was $21,060,105 more than what was requested for FY 2020.
Over the past several years, the GDOE has faced significant budget cuts resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and has implemented cost-cutting measures to manage the reduction in resources. Despite the cuts, the GDOE has continued to move forward with its mission and achieved a historic graduation rate of 87.3% in 2019.
The main drivers of the budget request include but are not limited to $269,839,517 to effectively staff and operate 41 schools at the department’s current level of operations; $29,644,975 to further advance and accelerate student achievement inclusive of $15.7M to address the backlog of textbook reorders, to restore substitutes at 10%, and to address the needs for assessment tools and instructional supplies; $51,023,436 to improve student health, supervision and safety, which includes $23M in deferred maintenance/repairs at various school sites; $10.6M for a new central middle school; $4.6M in classroom collateral equipment outlay; $7.3M in personnel (179 school aides and Head Start aides, 8 allied health professionals, 9 school resource officers and interpreters); and $7,477,306 in personnel costs associated with public mandates (to include prior year Merit Bonus and BRIP).
“Our budget request takes into account the needs expressed by our principals, teachers, families and employees over the past several months,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said. “Our request also aims to address important funding considerations, including sufficient personnel to keep our schools safe, funding for textbooks and supplemental instructional materials, as well as support for facility improvements, to include the Simon Sanchez High School rebuild and the conversion of Chief Brodie Memorial Elementary School into a central middle school.”
“We have struggled with a reduction in resources over the past two years, and recognize the challenging budget climate faced by the entire government,” Fernandez said. “However, we would like to ask that senators prioritize public education, and provide the resources necessary for our department to continue serving our students and to make progress to improve public education on Guam.”
“I want to thank our budget department for the time they put in to ensure our request reflects the needs of our school system and for their due diligence in ensuring we provide our senators with an accurate picture of the needs of our students,” Board Chair Maria Gutierrez said. “We hope our school system will be provided the resources it needs.”