How bad is it at the Guam Department of Education and the Legislature when 600-plus students and staff at Benavente Middle School are left out in the rain?
I went to the public hearing for the GDOE budget at the Legislature recently. I was actually feeling pretty confident that the senators would grasp how much the students and staff at BMS suffer when it rains and do something about it this year. But, when Sen. Joe San Agustin was speaking with Superintendent Jon Fernandez, San Agustin mentioned how several senators have emotional ties with Simon Sanchez High School and that "you have other schools that may be screaming very soon and we have to take care of one at a time." Total despair overcame me in that instant and my hopes that our students and staff would be taken care of any time soon suddenly dashed away. Our students can’t afford for the Legislature or GDOE to address one school at a time. It may be years before SSHS is completed.
Nowhere in GDOE do another group of students and staff suffer as much as the students and staff at BMS suffer. Even as bad as SSHS has been allowed to deteriorate, its students can easily maneuver around a leaking roof. The 600-plus students at BMS get soaking wet, several times a day, every day it rains. Let that soak in!
We’ve been very lucky that none of our students have become seriously ill because they have to run between 60 and 100 yards in the pouring rain. I can’t count how many times someone has mentioned how they got caught in the rain and now they’re sick. The strange part is that there was talk about the “Every Child is Entitled to an Adequate Education Act." The law contains 14 points that should ensure our students are given a fighting chance to become productive citizens once they graduate. No. 12 states that our students must be in a healthy environment. Surely, prolonged exposure to rain and then air conditioning can’t be healthy. The number of times students have slipped and fallen while running to class in the rain should compel someone to do something. Keeping our children healthy is the No. 1 goal of every parent. And, it should be the No. 1 goal of our government, too.
Give me the material and I’ll start building it myself.
Our students already suffer from the lack of teachers, books, substitute teachers, playgrounds and school aides. Please don't make our students continue to suffer from exposure, too!
Gary Kuper is a Benavente Middle School PTO team member.