Feds approve GDOE spending plan for $287M

GDOE: The Guam Department of Education main office building in Tiyan on Aug. 2, 2020. Post file photo

The Guam Department of Education's plan to spend $287 million in American Rescue Plan funding has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

The announcement was made this morning, just as GDOE has been searching for ways to close the $25 million gap in local appropriations for this fiscal year. The governor lapsed the senator's fiscal year budget legislation into law last month,  giving GDOE about $206 million.

“I am excited to announce approval of the Guam Department of Education plan,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these plans, the ways in which education systems are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities.”

The intent of the funding is to sustain health and safety at GDOE’s 41 public schools, charter, and private schools, as well as, to stabilize education by providing expanded educational opportunities for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Getting these fund is a vital part of GDOE’s road map to return about 26,000 students to five-days of instruction after nearly two-and-a half years of reduced instructional time in the classroom. But it’s also vital to private schools and charter schools on island.

“Participating public, charter, and private, non-public schools are eager to implement activities outlined within the approved ARP-OA-SEA Implementation Plan to accelerate student learning and achievement, close learning gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide a safe learning environment,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said in the release, thanking Secretary Cordona and his staff for their review and approval.

GDOE’s spending plan details funding set aside to address, the return to in-person instruction through repair and renovation of school facilities in 2021, learning loss recovery as a result of loss instruction time, expanded after-school programs and community enrichment through The Summer Academic Academy.

“The approaches to the academic lessons will help provide opportunities to ensure that students are progressing toward grade-level proficiency in the core academic subjects. The Academy provides students an opportunity to address any learning challenges during the school year, based on student grades, faculty recommendations, and parents’/guardians’ requests,” the release said.

The approval of the Guam’s ARP implementation plan is part of the USDOE’s broader effort to support the safe reopening of schools and to re-engage students across the country by addressing inequities in the education system through $130 billion for kindergarten through 12th-grade schools in the ARP.

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