Nearly 300 Guam Classrooms Will House FestPac Participants

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Schools to end 3 days prior to arrival of delegates

By Haidee V. Eugenio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 21, 2016) – Within three days, 295 classrooms in eight public schools will have to be transformed into decent living quarters for nearly 2,500 delegates coming to Guam for the Festival of Pacific Arts.

Delegates will begin arriving May 20. Public school classes end on May 17.

"It’s going to be a challenge, we know that," Chris Anderson, deputy superintendent of the Guam Department of Education, said in an interview Wednesday.

Basically, the education department would have three days from May 17 "to quickly close school, clear out teachers, and then be able to transform the designated classrooms into housing areas for delegations," Anderson added.

The Festival of Pacific Arts, or FestPac, will be in Guam this year from May 22 to June 4. The festival is held every four years.

Oyaol Ngirairikl, director of communications with the governor’s office, said Wednesday the festival has nearly 3,000 delegates, which includes Guam’s delegation.

The Guam delegation has 500 individuals. This leaves nearly 2,500 delegates from off-island to be accommodated in designated public schools. These schools are George Washington High School, Okkodo High School, Tiyan High School, Southern High School, Jose Rios Middle School, Untalan Middle School, Astumbo Middle School, and Agueda Johnston Middle School.

Each classroom-turned-living quarter would have eight to 12 FestPac delegates, depending on the room’s square footage.

The education department does not have the figures yet on the total costs that will be incurred in accommodating FestPac delegates for two weeks.

That amount would include power and water consumption, differential pay for DOE employees who will be involved in the delegate housing aspect, and some other contingencies.

"The bigger issue that we have to contend with is primarily just the logistics of moving collateral equipment out of the room," Anderson said.

This involves having to clear out 295 classrooms — in the eight schools — of student desks, teachers’ desks and even filing cabinets.

Anderson said the FestPac Committee is "coordinating for the military to be the main workforce to help" DOE with "the logistics of moving the collateral out of the classrooms."

Each designated classroom would then be cleaned — before futons for the delegates are put in — in time for FestPac delegates’ arrival. The FestPac Committee will provide the futons.

Anderson said there’s no renovation or repair anticipated in any of the classrooms for the festival accommodation. However, additional showerheads would have to be installed and existing ones would have to be repaired at Jose Rios Middle School in Piti. FestPac shoulders the purchase of the new showerheads.

Despite the challenges of turning schools into living accommodations in a three-day period, DOE is optimistic, Anderson said.

"We’re optimistic that we’re gonna make this happen," he said. "We know that this is an important event for the island. And we’re going to do our very best to make sure that we can transition schools by 3 p.m. on Friday, the 20th. FestPac is coordinating for the military to be the main workforce to help us with the logistics of moving the collateral out of the classrooms."

FestPac delegates will be picked up at the airport and transported to the eight designated schools by Department of Public Works school buses.

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