AFTER the approval of the Guahan Academy Charter School’s budget application, Guam Academy Charter Schools Council chairwoman Rosa Palomo said two other applicants have expressed interest in opening their own schools on the island.
Yesterday, a revised application put forward for the Atdao Charter School was scheduled for discussion, according to Palomo. However, without a quorum, the discussion was postponed until the next meeting.
Blue Ocean Charter School, another applicant, has signified their intent to resubmit their application after their initial submission was returned by the council for proposing a virtual schooling concept.
According to Palomo, Blue Ocean Charter School’s application was returned since current law requires contact hours as a requirement.
Palomo has also been approached by a couple of organizations who had asked questions about the application process. These organizations, she said, were also informed about provisions of the law as applied to charter school applications.
“They have been asking questions and we’ve been going through some of the provisions of the law so they’ll know what has to be in that application. One of those two is moving forward with getting a group together.”
Issues on sustainability, funding and operational concerns are just some of the challenges faced by charter schools on the island.
“As we move forward with this council, we are faced with opportunities. We are faced with challenges. Down the road, we may want to look at how other jurisdictions manage deadlines,” council member Joseph Artero-Cameron said in an interview with the Variety.
He added that having a budgetary plan given in advance could help charter schools address some of these funding issues.
Meanwhile, Palomo said with the availability of federal and other funding sources, charter schools are also bound by requirements, such as enrollment numbers.
“All charter schools are eligible to apply for federal dollars and from other entities that provide moneys for charter schools. Many of these charter schools require numbers – a set number of students. Funders also have to think about feasibility and the maximization of funding,” Palomo explained.
Another challenge, she said, are facilities.
“For us here, the law doesn’t provide for a structure. Unless you take the route of going into an existing school, what building you house your school in is dependent upon how much dollars you have and how well you are at writing grants for funds to support that facility need. Facilities are also expensive. That is a challenge,” Palomo said.
Artero-Cameron also emphasized the importance of sustainability and making sure that all operational components are balanced.
“For a school to sustain itself, it must balance all factors like being able to run the school, pay its overhead, and still have students; because if we don’t have students and you still have this overhead, it wouldn’t be sustainable – that will be the challenge for any new charter school,” he said.