Making Tiyan an education hub

TIYAN: The Tiyan High School campus in Barrigada is shown in January. Officials met Thursday to explore the possibility of developing sports facilities in Tiyan that can be shared by Guam Department of Education schools. Post file photo

A senator and officials at the Guam Department of Education met Thursday morning to discuss options and support for developing athletic facilities at Tiyan High School.

On May 24, GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez sent a letter to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero seeking support for, among other things, the development of athletic facilities at the campus – a promise made by the prior administration.

"Right now with the right planning, investment and coordination, we see the potential for Tiyan to become a hub for community and economic activity, anchored by the Tiyan education campus that currently exists," Fernandez said during an information briefing Thursday.

Access in the Tiyan area is limited and interspersed with privately owned lots and old Naval Air Station facilities that are "potentially ripe for future development," Fernandez said. In addition to Guam DOE's headquarters, the former Navy base is home to Tiyan High, Guam Elite Basketball Academy, Guam National Basketball Training Center, Department of Parks and Recreation baseball and softball fields and tennis courts, as well as Guahan Academy Charter School.

When the Tiyan High School gym opened in December 2015, then-Gov. Eddie Calvo committed to creating outdoor athletic facilities for the school including a track, soccer/football field and possibly baseball/softball fields, Fernandez said. But these plans were not realized "due to a number of factors."

Fernandez has since asked the current administration to develop options for financing and constructing facilities for the high school, an initiative supported by the Tiyan High community through a petition forwarded to Gov. Leon Guerrero's administration.

The Tiyan High campus property is under a lease-to-own agreement with Core Tech International up to around 2040. The Guam Daily Post is an affiliate of Core Tech.

The GDOE central offices and buildings utilized by Guahan Academy Charter School are also part of the lease. The annual cost is about $10 million per year, according to Fernandez.

One proposal discussed with the prior administration was to obtain additional Core Tech property between the campus and GDOE headquarters to construct track-and-field facilities.

"If possible and if it was a reasonable cost, then we would like to see that as an option considered. But obviously, that would require more resources to make (it) happen," Fernandez said.

GDOE would need $1.2 million to construct a track and field from scratch. This does not include the acquisition price for the property, but GDOE has not engaged Core Tech on that aspect.

Fernandez said he believed the Guam Economic Development Authority is ready to assist in that matter.

Sen. Telena Nelson, heading the information briefing, suggested negotiating the Tiyan lease if additional properties are required, as well as seeking a lease reduction.

Fernandez said that has been discussed in the past, and he has recommended to the governor to designate a representative to oversee the existing lease and also open up discussions.

GDOE is also looking at acquiring property behind its headquarters, which includes a warehouse and dirt parking area, so it can continue operating the Emergency Food Assistance Program. The program is currently operated out of warehouses in Piti, but those will be leased out for other uses.

Reporting on utilities, education and other topics.