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A new calendar. A new year.  Amazing how time zips.



 


Yes&Know By Aline Yamashita

 While we now write 2024, some things have not changed. Like the deterioration of our public schools. We can blame the pandemic and the storms but if we are honest, our facilities are falling apart because there was no attention given to them.  There was no focused leadership. We used to blame the revolving door of directors as the reason for subpar performance, but that hypothesis failed.


There was a superintendent in this position for 10 years. While his board members – our board members – hailed him as the best superintendent ever, what he left behind tells us otherwise.


Ironically, the central office has a new facility. I have never been there, but I am told it is spacious and clean. Not falling apart. And I imagine their air conditioning works.


I believe central office should be supported but so should schools. During the time life was shut down due to the pandemic – and employees were paid – facilities could have been cleaned up, fixed and prepared for inspections.


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There were announcements of American Rescue Plan funds that were slated for capital improvement projects. The Guam Department of Education has received its share of $239 million. So what happened? It was also disclosed that there were other funding sources granted to GDOE.


Today, what we are doing to some of our students is criminal. The idea that the SSHS Sharks and JFK Islanders will be sharing the Tumon campus for several years is hard to accept. Knowing that the construction of the Home of the Sharks is moving forward, it will be good to know concrete target dates.


While there has not been a statement about how long the FBLG Hawks and Okkodo Bulldogs or the Adacao Hilitai and JM Guerrero Dolphins will be sharing campuses, the displacement is a disservice to growing minds.


The same goes for the JRMS Voyagers going to school on alternate days. Not going to school daily and expecting the family to instruct students is not right. Parents and grandparents do not know the content expected to be taught at specific grade levels. 


I am certain that school communities are working hard to get their facilities re-inspected and passed by the Department of Public Health Social Services.


It is hard to understand why the contract with the Guam Education Facilities Foundation that built Adacao Elementary and Okkodo High did not require typhoon insurance. The leaseback model is designed to ensure our schools have quality schools that are properly maintained.


It is disappointing that these relatively new schools are damaged with no end in sight. School leaders are waiting for funding so that procurement can proceed and facilities can be fixed.


I am not sure why partnerships are not sought. I am certain there are construction companies that care about education and can fix roofs, air conditioners, bathrooms and walkways. I imagine that the construction circles have family members in our school communities and would be happy to contribute time, effort and resources.


Then, again, there is a huge amount of construction occurring across our island – behind and beyond the gates. A shortage of laborers stalls some projects.


An unfortunate consequence of not going to school is the decline of social and emotional development. Our students have lost their footing in their ability to be a part of a group setting. They are less capable of conflict resolution and coping skills. Isolation has contributed to individuals being comfortable on their own, in their own space.


Sharing that space becomes uncomfortable and stressful. But truthfully no person is an island. More than ever, we need every person to connect and collaborate to address all the problem areas that accompany us into the new year.

  

Only then will we have Peace on Earth.  Happy New Year!

 Aline Yamashita is a mom, a teacher and former senator. She served in the 31st and 32nd Guam Legislatures. Send feedback to  aline4families@gmail.com.

 



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