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Students likely face another year of sharing space

By Dionesis Tamondong

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 18, 2009) - The company preparing to lease an interim campus for displaced John F. Kennedy High School students will give the government of Guam until today to try and salvage a lease agreement and prevent another year of double sessions at George Washington High School.

Officials from GovGuam and Core Tech International Corp. met for several hours yesterday and into the night at the governor's office to try and resolve concerns of a lease agreement and of legislation that sets parameters for that lease.

Yesterday was the deadline for the contract between Core Tech and the governor to be approved. If it fell through, JFK students were guaranteed another year of double sessions at George Washington High in Mangilao.

Core Tech spokesman Joshua Tenorio said their company would give GovGuam another day to address those concerns.

The agreement hinged on a contract to rent the Tiyan facility for 10 years at $5.1 million per year, with a minimum of five years. The contract was also dependent upon legislation that would authorize tax credits in lieu of cash payments because of GovGuam's financial constraints.

As of 8 p.m. yesterday, the contract had yet to be signed by the attorney general's office, and the measure revised and passed by senators Tuesday night still lacked acting Gov. Mike Cruz's signature, said Shawn Gumataotao, the governor's deputy chief of staff.

Tenorio said his company wouldn't agree to the terms of the Legislature's substitute bill. If it's signed into law, the lease agreement will fall through, Tenorio said.

Core Tech had drafted the initial bill, but senators made several key changes after raising concerns over the tax credits and rebate entitlements and the cost of the 10-year lease.

Lawmakers limited the contractual agreement for a temporary school facility to one year, with the option to renew the lease on an annual basis. They appropriated $4.5 million for the lease.

Lawmakers also inserted a provision requiring the GPSS superintendent to authorize and certify $30 million of the $108 million that Guam is expecting in federal stimulus funding to rebuild JFK's Tamuning campus.

Rebuilding JFK

Senators said the provision would solidify a commitment to rebuild the JFK campus.

Until that certification is made, the bill prevents GovGuam from entering into a contract agreement for any temporary school facilities, including the interim campus in Tiyan.

But GPSS Superintendent Nerissa Bretania-Shafer is unable to certify those funds because the rules that dictate how territories can use the money has yet to be released.

"In the event that this falls through, the only other option that we have right now is to continue with double session," Bretania-Shafer said.

Representatives from the governor's office, Bureau of Budget Management and Research, General Services Agency, Department of Revenue and Taxation, Guam Public School System, Office of the Attorney General and Core Tech International met for hours yesterday to see if concerns over the bill and contract could be resolved.

"Everyone is still working and wanting to make sure we can make this work," Gumataotao said last night. "What's important is to prevent double session."

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