UNCERTIFIED TEACHERS IN GUAM LOSE PAY RAISE

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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 28) – Notices have gone out to 154 teachers in Guam that they will lose their 14 percent pay raise because they're not certified to teach in classrooms.

The notices went out to the teachers Monday, said Superintendent Luis Reyes, who went through the second day of his performance evaluation yesterday.

The education board may decide Friday whether to let Reyes keep the top job at the 32,000-student Guam Public School System.

Four or five administrators also received similar notices for not having their current certification as administrators, Reyes said.

The school system expects to save about US$400,000 through the fiscal year, which ends in September, by removing the 14-percent pay raise from the educators who have expired certification.

But the projected savings might not be fully realized.

When teachers or administrators update their certifications, their 14-percent pay raises will be restored, the superintendent said.

Teachers can update their certification if they have the required college credits to submit, or if they have taken classes at the University of Guam to become certified.

While teachers who do not have current certification can be dismissed, the outright dismissal of more than 150 teachers would disrupt learning, Reyes said, and students would ultimately suffer.

Reyes said he's talking to the education board about possible remedies, such as adverse action against teachers and administrators who let their certifications lapse.

He's working with the board to allow the non-certified teachers to stay if they're working on having their certification updated.

When the board initially discussed removing the pay raise from non-certified teachers about two weeks ago, more than 200 were without current certification.

Dozens of teachers have since taken time to get their certification updated, according to GPSS records.

Removing the pay raise from non-certified teachers and administrators is a part of US$6 million in cost-reduction and "cost-avoidance" measures that GPSS is implementing or plans to implement through the rest of the fiscal year. The fiscal year ends in September.

After paying gross payroll, which is around US$6 million for locally paid employees, the school system hasn't had money for school needs, such as photocopying supplies.

The school system's cash crunch also has led to non-payment of janitorial, security, air-conditioning repair and other school-level services provided by private companies.

Tamuning Elementary has been without air conditioning for more than a month, while Southern High School's air-conditioning system has been in need of temporary repairs for nearly three months -- and long-term solutions for years.

As of yesterday, the school system had not received any money in addition to that which the Department of Administration released Friday, which was primarily for payroll.

Sen. Ben Pangelinan yesterday sent a letter to Gov. Felix Camacho to follow up on his suggestion that the governor use US$2 million worth of compact-impact funds for air-conditioning repairs at GPSS schools. Compact-impact funds are federal taxpayer money Guam receives every year to help the island cope with hosting regional immigrants.

Pangelinan stated he had written to Interior Department official David Cohen last month about the proposed use of compact money for GPSS air-conditioning repairs. Cohen is the Interior deputy assistant secretary who deals with island issues.

"I respectfully ask for your support of my request," Pangelinan wrote to Camacho.

"You had the opportunity to advance the request with Deputy Assistant Secretary Cohen during your recent attendance of the ... Annual Western Micronesian Chief Executive Summit held in Saipan last week," Pangelinan wrote.

Governor's spokesman Shawn Gumataotao said, "The governor has just received the letter, and he will respond to Sen. Pangelinan."

The Guam Education Policy Board's nine voting members are expected to resume discussing the superintendent's job evaluation tonight. The board started the process Monday behind closed doors.

The board is expected to decide by Friday, said board Chairman Peter Alecxis Ada, speaking in an interview as an individual board member, rather than as chairman.

Reyes needs the support of at least five voting board members to keep the job.

The superintendent said after the first night of the board's questions that he found "comfort" in that the meeting's atmosphere felt more like a round-table discussion rather than an adversarial meeting.

Board Vice Chairman Joe San Agustin said he would like to work with GPSS management and help it get past its challenges.

"We're going to work as a team; not just challenge management," San Agustin said.

On the first day of his evaluation Monday, the superintendent provided supporting documents the board wanted to see as part of his performance review. Reyes said he is expected to provide additional documents to the board about his management decisions.

Ada said Reyes "is a very modest man."

"He's probably not giving too much credit to himself when he should," Ada said.

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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