Proposed Guam School Schedule May Be Completely Rescinded

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Education board seeks additional counsel over school hours

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Aug. 1, 2012) – The controversial 4AB bell schedule for Guam’s schools, which had already been postponed for a year, now faces the possibility of being scrapped altogether.

During last night’s Guam Education Board (GEB) meeting, which had to be rescheduled due to a lack of quorum, Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez said the school board had been in talks about reversing prior action made on the 4AB schedule.

"I think the board... they have been talking about rescinding the new schedule and just allowing me to take a look at what we need to do over the coming year. What they’d like to do, I think, is to reverse the action and seek my counsel on what the appropriate schedule ought to be," Fernandez told Variety in an interview.

Despite the uncertainties about the bell schedule, Fernandez said stakeholder discussions and further studies on the pros and cons of the 4AB schedule will continue.

"We just need to discuss it over the year and really tie it into what we are trying to do, which is to increase graduation rates and make sure our kids are getting the time and content they need during high school," he added.

Early in July, Fernandez recommended that the 4AB schedule be delayed for one school year for all high schools except Southern High School. SHS currently follows the Johns Hopkins curriculum.

Fernandez said he "would like to see the schedule discussed in the context of a broader, more comprehensive and academically-focused strategy, aimed at increasing graduation rates and ensuring that graduates are ready for college or the workplace."

Aside from the need to gather more input from stakeholders, concerns from the Department of Public Works regarding the availability of enough school buses to accommodate the new bell schedule was another factor in delaying its implementation.

On Feb. 29 of this year, a motion was passed by GEB to have all public high schools follow the bell schedule. A memo to all high school administrators was circulated on March 6 informing them of the decision. According to the memo, the bell schedule was passed "in consideration of what is in the best interest of students."

Last night’s board meeting had to be rescheduled to next week due to a lack of quorum. Critical agenda items such as the impending double sessions at George Washington High School and the 2012-2013 high school instructional schedules were supposed to be tackled in the meeting.

GW double session

In the meantime, Fernandez updated Variety on the implementation of double sessions at GWHS.

"For the board meeting, we were supposed to affirm the double sessions at GWHS. But I’ve spoken to the board members here and they were pretty much in agreement. So we are going to go ahead and move forward with the board’s approval," Fernandez said.

Fernandez also stated he is working closely with the Governor’s Office to expedite a transportation solution that would allow GWHS to run double sessions through the first quarter of the school year.

He further stated that the $150,000 in approximate funding intended to cover the costs of fuel, overtime and leasing of up to 15 buses will be taken out of the capital improvement project trust fund since the expense is connected to the construction of the GWHS STEM classrooms.

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