Additional $22.8 Million Requested For Guam's 2013 Education Budget

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‘Supplemental budget’ needed to cover past and present costs

By Jerick Sablan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 15, 2012) – The Guam Department of Education (DOE) will be asking for about $22.8 million for fiscal 2013 on top of the $272 million budget already submitted to the Legislature.

Education officials met with members of the Guam Education Board Finance Committee in a work session yesterday to discuss what they're calling a supplemental budget for fiscal 2013.

"Critical items (can) get lost in the original budget," said Anita Enriquez, education board member and chairwoman of the Education Board's Finance Committee. For that reason, officials intentionally separated the items in a supplemental budget, she said.

DOE is the government's largest agency with more than 5,000 employees. But it also has the largest number of people to serve with about 31,000 students, education officials have said. And the budget reflects the needs of the student population and agency mandates set by law.

According to the submission letter to the education board from interim Superintendent Taling Taitano, the items in the supplemental budget include costs for prior year obligations, textbook adoption requirements, deferred maintenance needs and the implementation of expanding the Chamorro language and culture curriculum.

A big chunk of the supplemental budget will be used to buy textbooks -- for Chamorro language and other subjects -- and hiring two program coordinators for the Chamorro language program -- which wraps up at $13.7 million.

The next big budget item is prior-year obligations at $6.1 million.

Then, almost $200,000 also is needed to pay 25 Chamorro teachers for the first two months of school year 2013-2014. The cost to provide each of those new teachers with classrooms and desks to go in them is more than $2 million.

Written by Sen. Mana Silva Taijeron, Public Law 31-45 requires additional Chamorro classes for middle and high school students. The law goes into effect in school year 2013-2014, and the first two months of that school year fall at the end of fiscal 2013.

Taitano said they don't expect to see their budget approved at the levels they requested. But they do want to show policymakers what it costs to meet the mandates made of the education agency.

"I know we have to think about education and safety and health as a community," Taitano said. "But at the end of the day, the mandate to hire Chamorro teachers is going to cost us money. And the mandate to ensure every teacher has their own classroom ... and that every child in that classroom has a textbook -- all of that is going to cost money."

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