Senators approve $20M budget increase for public school maintenance, report shows agencies declining to support schools

A majority of senators voted to increase the Guam Department of Education’s budget by $20 million from GDOE’s requested budget. The additional money will be dedicated to school maintenance costs, according to the amendment’s senatorial author, Chris Duenas.

The amendment, co-authored by education committee chairman Chris Barnett, allows an unused $20 million appropriation to GDOE for this fiscal year to carry over into next fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2023. The carry-over appropriation effectively raises GDOE’s spending authority to $267 million for Fiscal Year 2024, which ends September 30, 2024.

Sen. Chris Duenas

“[Monday]’s budget session brought forth a clear message: our schools are in dire need of these funds. Despite being allocated, it has been pointed out by GDOE Deputy Superintendent of Finance, Frank Cooper-nurse, that this money has not yet materialized. What more do we need to witness?,” Mr. Duenas said.

Mr. Duenas last week told Kandit the Leon Guerrero administration did not obligate the $20 million originally appropriated by a law he authored earlier this year for any school repairs. That money, according to administration budget officials, was allocated to the government’s typhoon response agency – the Office of Civil Defense – and GDOE officials made requests for drawdown of those funds to contract companies to make repairs.

Status report shows agencies refusing to support school repairs and readiness

According to at least one document showing 12 requests from GDOE to Civil Defense, most of the work requests from schools either are being denied by the administration, pending procurement, or being ignored altogether.

For example, on July 28 GDOE requested tree-cutting services for 41 schools. As of the status update, GDOE received no response from the administration. A request to repair a collapsed sewer line at Jose Rios Middle School shows the same status.

GDOE on August 3 requested a backhoe and operator to remove debris. According to the status report, the Department of Public Works responded with a request for GDOE to clarify its request.

Mold mitigation for 41 schools, fencing repairs for 29 schools, and skilled labor to make repairs all are pending procurement for work requested as far back as June 13.

The Guam National Guard declined to help GDOE move assets in order to accommodate double sessions in some schools. The Guard, DPW, and Guam Power Authority told GDOE, according to this status report, that they all were unable to help restore power and provide a master electrician to assess electrical damage to school infrastructure.

Sen. Chris Barnett

“I’m very grateful that we have strong bipartisan support for protecting education dollars. It’s unfortunate that Adelup chose to raid our public schools when they were at their most vulnerable, and even more disappointing that a week before schools open, GDOE has very little to show for the $20M that was taken,” Mr. Barnett said.


  • rodney perez

      08/15/2023 at 2:14 PM

    animosity…legislation took the power of the governor away from GDOE…years later, GDOE asks for money from the Governor. Governor ignores or gives the run around. Feelings were hurt. GDOE leadership uses students as leverage to get what they want……simple as that…. Don’t you realize how much political jobs and vacancies they are at GDOE to place political supporters after the election is won…GDOE is supposedly free from political pressure but still elects the school superintendent. Ai sus santa maria.

  • Frank Perez

      08/16/2023 at 4:58 AM

    Such is the plight of our people by a dishonest and possibly corrupt administration who allowed her agencies to run roughshod over her Organic Act authority!

  • Alan San Nicolas

      08/16/2023 at 5:51 AM

    Ti man malago I otru na ahensia ma ayuda I taotao GDOE sa I finoña si Arriola DPW “Guam has no good drivers”. Basta ma poksai I achaki (prublema) !!!

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