Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Mar. 11, 2010) - Several more new schools will be needed, or current schools expanded, to handle the influx of new students that will accompany the surge in population associated with the military buildup in Guam.

And many of our existing schools, due to poor maintenance over the years, need various repairs and fixes to better serve our island's public school students.

The challenge for the local government and its education agency is finding the money to pay for new construction and repair of existing facilities. Bill 302, which was introduced last year and had a public hearing Tuesday, could help with the problem.

The measure proposes to give contractors that enter into partnerships to build and repair public schools a tax credit on 75 percent of the total cost of construction. The credit could be used to offset Gross Receipts Tax on any revenue from the construction.

Sen. Eddie Calvo, a candidate for governor and sponsor of the bill, said, "The problem is there is never enough money to repair schools and build new ones. The government should allow contractors to build these facilities and offer incentives to get them involved."

Lawmakers should look at this measure as part of the planning process for how the local government will pay for needed school repairs and new public schools. If the proposal will make it easier for the government to get this work done, and if it doesn't significantly erode the tax base the government needs for operations, it should be considered.

But what's clearly needed is a plan to overhaul existing schools and build new ones, and it needs to be ready soon. The population increase associated with the buildup is coming fast, which means the government must start planning and acting now so that it is capable of providing adequate services, including public education, to the island.

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