Guam School System Meets Only 3 Of 14 Requirements

admin's picture

Failure to follow law could be impacting adequate education

By Malorie Paine

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 12, 2015) – The island's public school students might not be receiving an adequate education, according to a December report from Guam's education department.

A 2005 law established 14 requirements that the Guam Department of Education must meet to provide an adequate education, but according to the report, the system is failing to meet all but three requirements.

The requirements include having an adequate amount of teachers, providing textbooks for each student and ensuring facilities are suitable for students to learn.

Each public school compiles a full report detailing how the school is meeting, or not meeting, the 14 requirements. The reports are then compiled into a single document and sent to Guam DOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez.

Guam DOE Deputy Superintendent Robb Malay said the report is only a snapshot of the overall picture.

The December report shows as of November, all schools are only able to meet three requirements: providing a certified allied health professional, having 180 instructional days and providing a safe learning environment.

Teachers, faculty

Guam DOE had a shortage of more than 40 teachers with 19 vacancies in elementary schools, 10 vacancies in middle schools and 16 vacancies in the island's high schools, according to the report.

Having a shortage of teachers is a chronic problem for the school system, Malay said.

Each month this is an issue as teachers resign or retire.

The education system has dedicated resources to professional development and retention to address the issue, Malay said.

The law also requires certified professional administrators, but the report shows the department has six vacancies spread across all public schools.

The department had four vacancies for guidance and health counselors, which are classified as the third and fourth requirement of the 14, according to the report.

The fifth requirement is that school allied health professionals must be certified. The report shows only four of the island's 41 schools have people employed as allied health workers.

Malay said the position itself isn't required under the law, but if a school has a person in this position, he or she must be certified.

Structure, functionality

Four requirements address the structure and functionality of equipment and classrooms inside the schools. The law requires all classrooms be properly ventilated and the temperature inside each is not to exceed 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are eight schools, or 22 classrooms, that have failed to meet this requirement, the report shows.

Work orders for these problems had been filed, and the issues have been resolved, Malay said.

"We have replaced over 2,100 air conditioning units," Malay said. "The 22 classrooms translate to about 1 percent" of the total units.

Guam DOE recognizes improvement, but also will continue improving, Malay said.

The school system barely missed meeting the seventh requirement: providing an adequate supply of potable water. One school is just one water fountain shy of what's needed. And overall the public schools have 219 more water fountains than required.

Under the 14 requirements, schools are supposed to provide a reliable supply of electricity, but M.U. Lujan Elementary School and Merizo Elementary School both reported they were unable to do so.

These issues have already been acknowledged and fixed, Malay said.

The schools also have deficiencies in their restrooms. Two schools need additional toilets in the boys' restrooms, one school needs additional toilets in the girls' restrooms and seven schools need additional urinals, the report shows.

Textbooks, buses

Seventeen schools reported not having the textbooks needed to comply with the law.

Adopted and required textbooks and workbooks are to be issued to every student for every class in which he or she is enrolled, according to requirement 10.

In order to meet the final requirement, the education department has to work with the Department of Public Works to provide "regular, timely school bus transportation to and from school."

According to the report, 15 schools reported having issues at least once during the month of November.

Based on the language of the law, Guam's public school students are not receiving an adequate education.

However, Malay said the report shows that Guam DOE is not ignoring the requirements because the department is acting on what the schools are reporting.

"We want to continue using this as a monitoring system," Malay said. "The report allows us to stay focused on the 14 points. We can see we've made progress. We are not resting on that. We will continue working to deliver an adequate education to our students."

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment