Guam Education Department To Reduce ‘Unnecessary Costs’

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Pay raise freeze, no overtime and energy saving urged

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 26, 2012) – Department of Education (DOE) administrators on Guam are exploring ways to weather this year's fiscal crunch -- all the way down to the colors on school handouts.

In an effort to reduce costs at the Guam Department of Education, Superintendent Jon Fernandez has given Department of Education administrators five measures to follow.

The measures are targeted at "unnecessary costs" in 2013, according to a DOE press release.

He announced the following cost-cutting measures: The current freeze on pay raises will remain in place; there shall be no overtime except in emergencies; color copying will be eliminated and employees shall work without paper as much as possible; requests to hire non-teaching positions will be scrutinized by the superintendent; and schools must cut their energy usage.

"It is clear that resources for our public school children are going to be hard to come by in this current economy," said Fernandez. "We, as a department, have to do something, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, to ensure that we protect our classrooms and our children from these budget pressures. We need to reduce unnecessary costs and make those resources available to our students."

The department's fiscal 2013 budget of $212 million includes several appropriation reductions that will impact education spending.

Aside from an almost $2 million cut in support from the General Fund, the budget also includes a reduction intended for a charter school organization, maintenance and insurance costs at John F. Kennedy High School, additional food costs and an obligation for federally required fiduciary funds.

And, the release stated, the Bureau of Budget Management and Research has mandated a 15-percent reserve on appropriations -- about $30 million of the Guam DOE budget.

The education department is the island's largest agency, with more than 3,800 employees, according to the Guam DOE website. It services more than 31,000 students attending 39 schools.

The release also said Fernandez plans to review staffing lists for opportunities to share resources between divisions and schools, and he will appoint a budget task force to look for other cost-cutting options.

Uncertified teachers

At an education board meeting yesterday, the board also discussed a looming Dec. 1 deadline for several teachers who aren't certified.

Fernandez explained that about 50 teachers aren't certified and are unable to pass the Praxis test, which determines certification.

While the board is searching for a solution to allow teachers to keep their certification through negotiations with the certification board or Guam Legislature, they ultimately didn't take action.

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