Without a revenue solution from elected leaders, the Guam Department of Education will have difficulty complying with Public Law 28-45, also known as the “Every Child is Entitled to an Adequate Public Education Act”.
On Wednesday, the Superintendent of Education wrote a letter to the Governor and Speaker of the Guam Legislature seeking resolution to the budgetary situation impacting the GDOE.
He indicated that without a revenue solution, the next round of budget cuts at GDOE – including a hiring freeze on all vacancies, significant reductions in the availability of on-call substitute teachers, freezing of salary increments, shutdown of facilities after instructional hours and over the summer, delay of the 2018-2019 school year until October 1, and a 32-hour work week – could put the department in jeopardy of violating the law.
Public Law 28-45 sets forth 14 points that establish minimum requirements for the public education system on Guam, as well as requirements for the Bureau of Budget Management Research, Department of Administration, and Guam Legislature.
The law also provides standing for a public school student to file a lawsuit against the government of Guam for injunctive relief to ensure the enforcement and fulfillment of the law’s mandates.
“In review of these duties and in light of our annual requests to the Guam Legislature for a budget to meet the mandates of Public Law 28-45, I believe we have done our best to work within our annual appropriation to meet the law’s mandates and fulfill our department’s mission to educate our 31,000 students each year,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said. “However, given the budget reductions that we are being forced to take and the inaction to date on providing revenue relief to the department, our ability to meet the requirements of Public Law 28-45 is being threatened.”
“I believe that this requires that, in my role, I apprise the Legislature and Governor – to include all relevant agencies – of the situation that the department faces in meeting the mandates set forth in law and request your assistance in providing immediate relief,” Fernandez added. “I am requesting the Legislature and Governor provide immediate relief to the Guam Department of Education to alleviate further budget cuts to our public school system, avoid disruption of our school year and activities, support our efforts to improve our facilities and services for stakeholders, and avoid the furloughing of GDOE employees.”