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Peaceful gathering held at Skinner Plaza
THE George Washington High School and John F. Kennedy High School meetings has snowballed into a growing movement composed of stakeholders from high schools such as Okkodo, Simon Sanchez, and Southern High.
The Agana Heights and Captain H.B. Price elementary schools have also joined in the clamor to revisit the controversial “4 by 4” bell schedule.
Using the power of social media, the movement has crossed over into Facebook with the creation of the Guam Schools United page. The Facebook page has seen an increase in membership during the past few days.
Students, parents and teachers headed to Skinner Plaza yesterday afternoon to attend the peaceful assembly organized by JFK and to show their support by brandishing placards with statements such as “Additional Courses Does Not Mean Masters,” “4AB Schedule will Increase Operational Cost,” “Students Come First,” and “Quantity Does Not Equal to Quality.”
JFK teacher Steve Protasio said the media report about GW being the only school that had concerns with the new bell schedule galvanized them into action.
Protasio said they had been discussing the issue at JFK for several weeks, and out of those meetings evolved the various actions teachers have taken so far.
“The word is getting out and we believe this is going to snowball until it gets to a critical mass where we have all the schools represented and we’ll be able to speak up with one voice,” Protasio stated.
Although the schools are spread out all over the island, teachers present at the gathering shared similar sentiments about the lack of stakeholder input in the development and adoption of the new bell schedule.
Joseph Devenecia from Southern High said their school went through several bell schedule changes without consultation from the teachers and parents. “It’s deja vu all over again,” Devenecia stated.
Meanwhile, Okkodo High School teacher Angel Calugay said: “It is very irresponsible and undemocratic of the board to make decisions without getting input from the stakeholders.”
“When they are making decisions on our behalf, are they basing their decisions on what the majority wants?” Calugay asked.
Carol Sommerfleck from Agana Heights Elementary School said “although the issue is focused on high school schedules, it is something that will trickle down to the elementary levels.”
“We truly need to be proactive in this because we need a united voice and this is what this has created,” Sommerfleck added.
Captain H.B. Price teacher Jeff B. Emmanuel shared the same concern voiced out by Sommerfleck. He believes that “if they let the Guam Education Board railroad the high schools, it’s going to be the middle schools and elementary schools next.”
“We are here to make sure there is a balance of power. If they even try to touch the elementary, it will be triple the force, quadruple the force,” Emmanuel explained.
Democratic congressional nominee Karlo Dizon was also at the gathering to show his support for the stakeholders. “I went to Simon Sanchez High School. I witnessed first-hand how much work, how much passion the teachers have,” Dizon said.
Meanwhile, a special meeting will be convened by the Guam Education Board today at 8:30 a.m. at the Training and Development Conference Room of the Department of Administration in Hagåtña.
According to a public notice sent out last May 7, the board members will be discussing the new GDOE superintendent’s contract.
Although a superintendent has already been selected, questions have arisen regarding the relocation package proposed for the new superintendent.
One of the board members, Joe San Agustin, said GDOE cannot afford to fund the relocation expenses of Fernandez. He also stated that the negotiation process should have been done before Fernandez accepted the position.