- PICTURE (below): of UMS teacher Rosita Huff speaking with Gov. Calvo this morning. Mrs. Huff is the person who got this entire thing started.
- IMAGES (below): of the emails that show what was going on between August 15, 2011 and the time the Governor sent the inspectors in to UMS.
- Watch (click here) November 21, 2011 footage of what UMS looked like and why it had to be shut down.
- Watch (click here) UMS Principal Jim Reyes’ speech, where he thanks many people for today’s milestone.
- Watch (click here) Education Board Vice Chairwoman Maria Gutierrez’s message to incoming students and her thoughts right before this morning’s re-opening of the campus.
- Watch (click here) what the students had to say about their new school.
- Watch (click here) Governor Calvo’s impassioned speech this morning.
Hard-fought victory: Untalan re-opens, modern and better than ever
Governor celebrates completion of renovations and improvements
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2014
“The sweetest victories are the ones you have to fight hard for. We had to fight hard for Untalan. There were leaders, even within DOE, who didn’t want to help this school community. But there was no way a human being with a heart could ignore what those kids had to endure. We stuck to our guns and took the long journey to today. Now the kids have a new school. I’m so proud.” – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
Untalan Middle School re-opens after modernization
Untalan Middle School will start its school year back on its newly-modernized campus. Of the many initiatives Gov. Calvo undertook, the Untalan modernization project is among those that the Governor holds close and personal to his heart.
It all started with a teacher named Rosita Huff
The short story is that the Governor — responding to complaints from UMS faculty and administrators that largely went unanswered by DOE — saw the conditions at UMS, closed it down; moved the students to the Tiyan campus, promised to return them, and ensured the UMS modernization. Today’s homecoming brings this issue full circle. Here’s what happened (see string of email below news release for even more detail on this timeline):
8/15/2011: UMS teacher Rosta Huff writes to the Governor’s office about unresolved air conditioning issues at UMS.
11/21/2011 (6:13 a.m.): After months of trying to get DOE to fix her classroom’s air conditioning problems, Mrs. Huff writes another email, frustrated and asking for help. In this email, she reveals other issues at the school.
11/21/2011 (around 10 a.m.): Governor Calvo and Senator Aline Yamashita arrive at UMS to visit Mrs. Huff’s classroom and to see what else is happening with the UMS facility. While there, Principal Jim Reyes informed the Superintendent’s office of the Governor’s impromptu visit and dispatched the Associate Superintendent to the school. Arleen Unpingco directed the DOE maintenance shop to make repairs as the Governor walked through one safety hazard after the other at the campus. The Governor directed DPW to help as well. He left the campus assured by DOE that the problems will be resolved.
11/22/2011: Sen. Judi Guthertz writes to the Governor and requests he declares an emergency at UMS, send in regulatory agencies, and move the students to the Tiyan campus.
12/2011: Chief of Staff Franklin P. Arriola convenes a high-level working group to move students to a new campus while UMS is modernized. This was followed by refusal by education board to proceed and pushback from the Legislature.
1/12/2012: Calvo sends Public Health, DPW, and fire inspectors to Untalan after a student slipped in the hallway and hit her head on the concrete. The inspectors immediately shut the school down. The Governor ordered all agencies to help DOE move the students to their temporary Tiyan campus.
The unsafe, unsanitary conditions
Governor Calvo saw first-hand a number of unacceptable conditions the Wildcats had to deal with, including:
- Restrooms filled with sewage backup
- Students walking through and playing in a flooded courtyard because of the lack of drainage
- Holes in the floors of classrooms
- Deteriorating walkways
- Classrooms that reportedly were as hot as 90 degrees
- Air conditioning units that constantly tripped due to electrical issues
- Much of the student population still studying in old, crumbling ‘temporary’ classrooms
All classrooms renovated, flooding no longer an issue, STEM classes added
Untalan Middle School is brand-new from top to bottom. These improvements address all of the problems Governor Calvo wanted fixed, and invest in a better education for students. The renovation work includes:
- A brand-new gym
- Completely renovated classrooms, offices, restrooms, and cafeteria
- Temporary classrooms replaced with permanent structures
- An additional restroom
- Brand-new STEM classrooms
- A brand-new concrete canopy for students to be sheltered from the weather
- New, safe lighting in all hallways
- New air conditioners in all classrooms
- A new, safer parking lot
- A new, beautiful school front
- Fixed flooding issues
Despite senseless opposition, new Tiyan High School to open tomorrow
This two-year long process was a long road for our students. Despite initial support from the entire legislature and former members of the Guam Education Board, some leaders changed their positions, and began to block the progress of the repairs at Untalan and the purchasing of the Tiyan campus. Some of these critics were in fact the biggest proponents of the Tiyan campus’ use as a high school, and they still have yet to explain what motivated their extreme change in position.
Governor Calvo, Superintendent Jon Fernandez, Republican senators, and partners on the board never faltered — insisting these projects were the right thing to do for our students. At the end of it all, our students, parents, and teachers have won. Untalan Middle School is now a safe and positive learning environment. Tiyan High School will improve learning and safety several schools by eliminating overcrowding. All this means more students will be supported, and prepared for life.