Newly signed laws pave the way for timely opening of Guam public schools
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed into law a set of bills that will pave the way for the timely opening of classes.
The governor on Saturday signed Bills 159, 158 and 156, which were all passed by the Guam legislature during last week's emergency session.
The three bills, Leon Guerrero said, each represent “an honest effort at solving the crisis that the flawed passage of Public Law 37-4 created and the severe damage Typhon Mawar caused.”
The newly signed laws will lift the pressure off the Guam Department of Education, which was mandated by the now-corrected P.L. 37-4 to fully comply with sanitation rules before opening the schools.
Speaker Therese Terlaje’s Bill 156, now Public Law 37-33, will augment the pool of school inspectors by tapping employees from other departments and allowing the temporary hiring of retired inspectors.
Sen. Dwayne San Nicolas’ Bill 158, now Public Law 37-32, allows schools to continue operating while awaiting sanitation inspections.
“Public schools that have failed inspection may operate at the discretion and approval of the superintendent of GDOE and DPHSS director. It will also require a monthly progress report to the Guam legislature,” San Nicolas said.
Sen. Frank Blas’ Bill 159, now Public Law 37-31, resets the deadline for the education department to come in full compliance with sanitation rules and regulations back to the original schedule, which is school year 2024-2025
“None of these measures is a panacea for the challenges that face our public schools, but at least the Guam Department of Education can meet these challenges without the unreasonable burden of an arbitrary timeline—one that changed from one legislature to the next,” Leon Guerrero said after signing the bill on Saturday.
“For the past several weeks, a community-wide effort engaging a myriad of organizations, government agencies and the Guam National Guard has worked to help GDOE prepare our public schools for the opening of the school year. That effort has called on people from every walk of life. It is blind to partisanship or the last election, and most importantly, it has been focused unwaveringly on our school children,” she added.
The governor also signed Sen. Joe San Agustin’s Bill 91, which targets facilities and maintenance personnel to fill the vacant positions needed to help the education department with upkeeping and repairing its 40 public schools.
"This is what happens when cooler, calmer minds prevail,” San Nicolas said. “Understanding that we may have acted in haste through Public Laws 37-4 and 37-26 and made a mistake, this bill is correcting that. I also thank my Republican and Democratic colleagues for coming together and supporting this measure."