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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Vandalism, Break-Ins Costing Guam DOE $1.6 Million
Education official calls to support funding for security systems

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Feb. 8, 2013) – School break-ins and vandalism over the course of three years cost the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) approximately $1.6 million, accounting for loss and replacement of property as well as labor and materials for facility repairs.

Robert Malay, GDOE deputy superintendent for Assessment and Accountability, reported the figures during a recent public hearing on Bill 1, which authorizes the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) to procure security systems for public schools.

If enacted into law, the bill will allow the government to enter into an agreement with a contractor for the financing, design and purchase as well as installation and maintenance of electronic security systems for public schools.

Most of the incidents over a period of three years, 46 percent, took place in schools under the Lagu or northern district of the island. For school year 2012-2013, the figure is even higher at 64 percent.

Because of this, Malay said GDOE fully supports the bill.

"This would provide equipment that would help in the prevention of criminal activities in school grounds. Today, our public schools continue to experience a high number of school break-ins and vandalism," Malay said.

The proposed investment and additional security, he added, will help to not only prevent loss and damage to schools, but also help reassure GDOE employees, children and families that the schools remain safe learning environments.

Investment

The sponsor of Bill 1, Speaker Judith Won Pat, pointed out that GDOE has often been in the news for vandalized facilities or stolen school property. She noted, in particular, the spate of copper wire theft incidents which occurred in December.

Around 11 school break-ins were noted in December, consisting mostly of copper wire thefts which hit several schools within a three-week period, during which GDOE also reported graffiti and stolen property incidents in two schools.

The spate of copper wire thefts spurred Won Pat to introduce the bill also known as the "Secure Our Schools Act of 2013," co-authored by Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes.

During the public hearing on the bill, Won Pat said the purpose of the legislation is "to protect the 30,000 students, 40 schools, and all of the Guam Department of Education assets."

Such assets include future laptops for students authorized by ARRA funding. However, Won Pat said GDOE won’t be able to move on in procuring these assets until an adequate security system is in place in the island’s public schools.

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