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OPA: Students migrating to charter schools due to Guam's public school conditions

 By Pacific Island Times News Staff

At least two charter schools on Guam have seen mounting student enrollment rates that proportionately resulted in increased expenditures billed to the government, according to the Office of Public Accountability.

The OPA has released audit reports on the financial performances of iLearn Academy Charter School and the Guahan Academy Charter School, which both received clean opinions from independent auditors, Ernst & Young on their fiscal year 2023 financial statements

Both schools received allotments from the Guam Department of Education.


In fiscal 2023, iLearn saw an increase in student enrollment, with the number of enrolled students amounting to 777, compared to FY 2022’s figure of 740. 


“This growth is attributed to a notable rise in transfer rates, with nearly 11 percent of the student population categorized as transfer students,” the OPA said.


Historically, iLearn's kindergarten class enrollment was capped at 120 students but the class size grew to 140 during the school year covered by the audit. 


“The increase was influenced by issues surrounding  Guam Department

 of Education's public schools, such as delayed start times, double sessions, and online learning,” the OPA said. 

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“Despite witnessing a considerable influx of new enrollments, iLearn also encountered significant withdrawals, primarily due to families relocating off-island for better employment opportunities.”


iLearn witnessed a substantial increase in total revenues, totaling $5.96 million, marking a $1.1 million surge or 23 percent growth compared to 

FY2022's total revenues of $4.8 million. 


“The notable increase in revenues primarily stemmed from GovGuam’s appropriation of $5.5 million, as stipulated by Public Law  36-107, authorizing iLACS to receive $7,500 per enrollee not to exceed 740 students, as opposed to the previous P.L 36-54, which allowed only $6,200 per enrollee, also

 not exceeding 740 students,” OPA said.

iLearn experienced a slight increase in program revenues, going from $94,000 to $218,00, the audit showed.



In a separate report released earlier this month, the OPA mentioned the Guahan Academy Charter School's proposed facility expansion to accommodate a larger student body. 


The school is proposing a permanent campus tailored to serve a minimum

 of 850 students, featuring dedicated spaces for school functions such as

administrative offices, support staff facilities, a cafeteria, and a gymnasium designed to meet GACS standards and requirements. 


GACS issued a request for proposal for Programming and Architecture & Engineering Consulting Services on Dec. 22, 2023, in anticipation of financing availability.


While charter schools are allowed to raise their own revenues, the OPA noted GACS' reliance on government money.

“In FY 2023, GACS relied significantly on GovGuam funding, receiving $4.2

million in per-pupil allocation, which constituted approximately 77 percent

 of its total annual revenues,” OPA said.


“By year-end, GACS boasted a student enrollment of 765, broadly aligning

 with its authorized capacity for the academic year. However, any substantial decreases in per-pupil reimbursements could pose challenges to GACS's operational capabilities due to its dependency on GovGuam for funding support,” OPA said.


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