491 new positions added
AT THE budget hearing held yesterday at the Legislature, the Guam Department of Education presented a proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 of almost $300 million, a figure almost $100 million over the amount that was allocated to the department this year.
“Over the past three fiscal years, the department has been experiencing budgetary shortfalls between what has been approved by the Guam Education Board and what has been authorized and enacted into budget law,” GDOE’s budget proposal stated.
According to documents presented during the budget hearing, GDOE is requesting $197 million in personnel expenses, $51.6 million for operations, $16.7 million for utilities, and at least $6 million for capital outlay expenses.
In addition, GDOE is also requesting at least $22 million as a supplemental budget to address “the “expansion of Chamorro Language and Culture Curriculum under Public Law 31-45, annual maintenance cost for a new Financial Management Information System, backlog and shortage of adopted textbook purchases, and prior period obligations and expenditures.”
491 new positions
GDOE’s budget for personnel accounts for at least 73 percent of the total amount requested by the department, reflecting an increase of around $20 million.
The figures for the personnel expenses, according to GDOE, will support existing staffing requirements and also the hiring of 491 new personnel for the department.
The new positions up for funding include 68 teachers, 87 clerks and secretary typists, and 193 school aides.
According to GDOE documents, the total amount requested is necessary to “adequately cover personnel costs.”
Last year, the department submitted a proposed budget of around $260 million, or around 4 percent less of the current budgetary request, but still above the current operating expenses of the department.
Aside from additional personnel requirements, the department projects several anticipated expenditures that have contributed to the increase in the budget allocation for FY2013. These items include additional costs for capital outlay, operational costs for the Child Nutrition Program Local Subsidy, and funding for collateral equipment at the schools.
Part of the anticipated additional expenditures outlined in the GDOE budget include a $5.8 million cost for financing a third party fiduciary agent contract and the implementation of the new Financial Management Information System required under the Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan adopted by the department to address its current “high risk” grantee status.
“The department has submitted a budget that is out of line with their current operating expenses. It is something that would cover all things under the sun. We just don’t have that capacity to do that. What we want to do is ensure that the budget and the increase in any personnel go into two areas. One of course is the classroom,” Sen. Ben Pangelinan said.
For his part, GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez stated: “I felt in the conversation with the senators that they are very supportive with our educational system, our priorities, and trying to make sure that we are helping students.
“Obviously, it’s a time of constrained resources so there will be some back and forth about how much is actually needed to fund the department in the coming year. But I think we had a great start in the conversation today."