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Capital improvements, technology upgrades planned

By Therese Hart HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Jan. 4, 2010) – Going into the New Year, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) is looking forward to receiving US$70 million in stimulus package funds that will be used for much needed capital improvement projects and bringing local schools into the age of information technology, said acting Superintendent Taling Taitano.

"One of the things that’s really exciting on the horizon is that the US$70 million will have a huge impact on the department. Half of the money is going into Construction In Progress (CIP) to help fix the schools and money will go toward technology so that all our classrooms are upgraded with computers, e-books and other technology out there for the classrooms," Taitano said.

He said the governor’s office is working to repackage the grant application and she believes that the document will be sent out to the U.S. Department of Education sometime this week.

After talks with federal education officials, GDOE was told that the grants are close to being approved, Taitano said.

"They just needed slight modifications and we’re hoping that sometime in January, we’ll be told that the grant has been awarded," he said.

The US$70 million will be shared with Guam Community College and the University of Guam.

Taitano said the New Year still brings with it old problems, such as not having enough money to pay utilities which means that GDOE will continue to have shortfall issues.

He said the US$26 million supplemental budget is still being considered but he is hopeful that the stimulus funds will be awarded and released soon to pump extra needed money into GDOE.

As for the 3.5 percent pay increase for guidance counselors, certified teachers in the classroom and librarians, Taitano said the estimated US$4 million that is needed to cover this expense is not available in GDOE’s US$196 million budget.

In its last board meeting, the Guam Education Policy Board decided that these employees would be given the 3.5 percent salary increase, which could be found in the FY 2010 budget.

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