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Guam charter school facing eviction due to rent arrears

Updated: Jun 21


SIFA Learning Academy Charter School held a science fair in March 2024. Photo courtesy of SiFA

 By Pacific Island Times News Staff

 

A charter school in Barrigada is facing eviction due to outstanding rental debt owed to its landlord, Eagle Land Holdings LLC.

 

Eagle Land appealed to the Guam Charter School Council and the Guam 

legislature to step in and assist the Science is Fun and Awesome Learning Academy Charter School, or SiFA, in settling its rental dues, which have accumulated to more than $4 million.


"At the end of our contract in June 2023, they owe us $3.098 million," said Olivia Brioso, president of Eagle Land. "For the holdover period from July 2023 to June 15, 2024," they owe us $1.489 million."


In a press release, Eagle Land said despite its several attempts to collect,

SiFA has yet to fulfill its rent obligations, "placing a significant financial strain on Eagle which cannot be sustained indefinitely."


“Allowing SiFA to operate without settling their financial obligations is unfair and sets a troubling precedent,” Eagle Land said in a press release.


According to the Office of Public Accountability, SiFA’s operations have been unable to raise sufficient revenues since 2022.


OPA’s 2023 audit noted that some of SiFA’s liabilities remained unpaid, including approximately $2.4 million for services under the Partnership

for Learning Support in Education Through Lease, Utilities, Supplies and Services, or PLEASE, contract with Eagle Land.

 

“Eagle has refrained from serving an eviction notice despite years of 

accumulated unpaid rent at a negotiated rate, demonstrating our considerable patience and concern for the students' well-being,” Eagle Land said.

 

SiFA is preparing to open as scheduled this school year, according to Frea A. Vidallon, SiFa’s executive office liaison.

 

“We are in constant communication with Eagle Land Holdings,” Vidallon said. “SIFA’s arrangement with the landlord is complicated and much more than just renting space.  We entered into a comprehensive full-service lease.”

 

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Under the five-year PLEASE contract, Eagle provides the facility, equipment, utilities, services and supplies to SiFA for a $2.4 million annual payment.

 

The contract expired in June 2023. During that year, Eagle gave SiFA a discount of $662,000, which reduced SiFA’s previously recorded contract expenditures for SY 2020-2021, according to OPA.

 

“Notwithstanding the lapse of the lease contract on June 2023, Eagle sought judicial remedy only after the 2023- 2024 school year had closed to avoid displacement of students,” Eagle Land said.

 

“As a business, we cannot continue to sustain these losses and must insist that SiFA settle the outstanding payments before committing to a further stay at

 the current campus,” it added.


The Guam Academy Charter School Act of 2009 paved the way for instituting local charter schools. Unlike public schools under the Guam Department of Education’s orbit, charter schools operate with some autonomy under a contract with the Guam Academy Charter Schools Council.


SIFA specializes in science, technology, engineering and math.


OPA said SiFA ended FY 2022 in a deficit net position of $1.22 million. During that school year, SiFa had a total of 343 students and was able to receive

government appropriations totaling $2.1 million, based on a public law that sets the cost per pupil at $6,200.  

 

"We deeply believe in the promise and potential of our children, recognizing

 their bright future as the cornerstone of our island community's growth and prosperity,” Brioso said.


“Our patience and concern for SiFA's mission over the past years stem from a shared faith in nurturing and uplifting the next generation. We remain steadfast

 in our commitment to fostering an environment where every child can flourish, knowing their success will benefit our beloved island," she added.



 

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