DOE cost-cut plan unverified: Chairman says board hasn’t discussed reducing costs

Written by Erin Thompson
Pacific Sunday News

With the rest of the government of Guam facing stringent budget cuts, the question of how the Department of Education will trim spending on its own unclear.

The department has not released any details on its own cost-cutting plans, which were alluded to in Gov. Eddie Calvo’s message to GovGuam workers, delivered Friday.

Calvo told the Department of Education it would be exempt from the 10-percent downsizing. But in the Friday message, Calvo said he believed the department should cut spending on its own, and that he’d received proposals from DOE officials for cuts to non-essential personnel in the department.

According to the fiscal 2012 budget digest, the Department of Education had 3,081 full-time equivalent employees — all but five of whom were classified. Executive branch employees, including DOE, total more than 7,410, according to the statistics compiled by the Guam Department of Labor.

Francis Santos, chairman of the Guam Education Board, said Thursday he had no knowledge of any proposed DOE spending cuts. He said the board would have to meet to discuss the topic, which it had not, and decide a plan of action before any such proposal could be submitted. Interim Superintendent Taling Taitano didn’t return phone calls, emails or text messages on Thursday or Friday.

The cuts to government costs are needed, at least in part, because of a decision by the governor to boost DOE’s budget by $11 million for fiscal 2012, according to administration spokesman Phil Leon Guerrero.

The governor’s office had asked for $195.9 million to fund the Department of Education in fiscal 2012 — up from $185 million allocated for fiscal 2011. That’s still $10 million less than the fiscal 2011 budget, which totaled $205.1 million because of a $20 million one-time federal grant. Even with the grant, the agency was $6 million short for this fiscal year, according to Pacific Sunday News files.

Earlier this month, the Legislature passed a $201 million budget for the education agency, which Calvo signed into law.

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