GDOE teachers: air conditioners need to be fixed; looking forward to the new school year | Guam News

Public school students kicked off the new school year on Wednesday and were greeted by Guam Department of Education teachers, faculty and staff at all 41 campuses.

For some teachers, it started with broken air conditioners.

The Guam Daily Post had the opportunity to speak with some public school educators who shared their concerns about facilities and maintenance issues.

“We haven’t had any luck getting ACs fixed at our school, so I hope your story gives us the help we need,” Alexandra Mandapat, an English as a Second Language or ESL teacher, told Tamuning Elementary. School. “This will be my fourth year of teaching and the biggest challenge at Tamuning ES right now is that the air conditioners in 18 of the 34 classrooms, the cafeteria and the library are not working. Setting up classrooms and having team meetings to get everything in order has been challenging for our faculty and staff. Many of our teachers had to bring their own ventilators or buy them at their own expense. The district is aware of our situation and we also told our parents about it during our back-to-school orientation. No specific date has been given as to when the air conditioners will be repaired. … We hope this issue will be resolved as soon as possible. It’s been on and off since last school year. Especially in the cafeteria.

Another teacher from a northern school shared similar concerns for her peers.

“Not necessarily my class, but I feel for a lot of my colleagues who have to start the year in hot classrooms,” said Acie Jo Sablan Cruz, a teacher at Simon A. Sanchez High School. “The air conditioning units are always broken and since our main building has no windows, it is quite difficult to have a conducive learning environment. But, as always, we are adapting and overcoming and hoping that the leaders in place will truly help to prioritize education and address these lingering issues.

GDOE officials said the department is working to resolve the issue.

“We’re taking care of that. We understand what those challenges are, (we’re) working very hard with our staff, facilities and maintenance, to really make those resources available,” said Joe Sanchez, assistant superintendent of program and maintenance. instruction from the GDOE. “We understand that classrooms are hot and we really push our people to focus on the classrooms first. That’s where the air conditioning people focus first and go for it.” ensure that those classrooms are being serviced. We know that the air conditioner crews have set their schedules to get to the schools to try and get those air conditioners working as quickly as possible.”

Additionally, using U.S. bailout funds, in small purchases, the GDOE purchased 145 air conditioning units, which it is working to install, according to Michelle Franquez, GDOE’s acting public information officer. .

“I know our facilities and our maintenance crews worked effortlessly,” Franquez said. “Currently, the other 65 are also being installed. We do our best to accommodate the needs of air conditioning units in our classrooms. »

So far, 80 units have been installed, she said.

The number of classrooms in need of repairs or new air conditioning units was unclear at press time.

Meanwhile, Astumbo Middle School teacher Elvie Carlos, who has been in the field for eight years, wants a new bell or intercom system installed.

She told the Post that as of last year the intercoms were down.

“Maybe some classrooms did it, but not all… hallways did it,” Carlos said. “The system needs to be updated and it is outdated.”

GDOE’s Sanchez recommended speaking with individual school administrations.

“The intercoms and other areas go to the directors because what we’ve been doing over the last few months is trying to identify specific areas that might need to be addressed and used through investment funds “Sanchez said.

While some classes were challenged, Al Edrich Labang, a first-grade teacher at Astumbo Middle School, had no problem with his teaching environment.

“There is nothing wrong with my class,” Labang said. “I think everything inside was working fine.”

While he has no concerns about the facilities, he shared his concerns about other areas that need fixing.

“Fitting out all the materials in my classroom is difficult,” Labang said. “Especially as a first time teacher, I have to buy most of my resources because I’m just getting started. There’s nothing wrong with my class. I think everything inside was working fine I think something needs to be resolved this school year is to address the missed learning opportunity of the previous school year.A lot of learning time has been lost.

Despite the challenges highlighted, GDOE teachers are anticipating what the new school year has to offer. As the past two and a half school years have demonstrated, educators can overcome obstacles.

Labang said, “I look forward to the success of my students. I’m confident that I’m ready for this school year because GDOE is really supporting beginning teachers because they have organized a seminar to get us on the same page with everyone. Also, with the professional development they have this year, I feel over-prepared but, as teachers, that’s what we should be doing.

Carlos said she looked forward to meeting new students. “A new school year means new faces, personalities and opportunities. Since this is the school year where we come back strong face to face,” Carlos said.

Cruz, who is celebrating a milestone of 20 years of teaching, said: “I’m looking forward to some normalcy. I look forward to enthusiastic learners and new beginnings. I’m ready! As ready as possible.

Mandapat said: “With the easing of COVID restrictions, I look forward to some sense of normalcy as all students will attend in person. I look forward to welcoming students to the school and delighted with the growth that we will see in them throughout the year.” I look forward to seeing the smiling faces of the students as they see their friends and meet their new teachers. Other than that, I’m excited for the new year and ready to start! I love my job, my colleagues and my students.”

Karl M. Bailey