By Troy Torres
The governor signed into law a Jim Moylan bill that funds much-needed repairs at Southern High School.
Bill 269-35, which proposes a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to Repair and Rehabilitate the Southern High School Auditorium is now Public Law 35-143. The measure was unanimously passed in December by lawmakers of the 35th Guam Legislature. Because of the government’s tight finances, an 'outside the box' effort was sought out.
PL 35-143 would authorize tax credits in the amount of $500,000 a year for no more than two years for those businesses who contribute towards the repairs of the air conditioning and rehabilitation of the facility. For every dollar, an entity provides, they attain an equal amount in credits towards their Business Privilege Taxes. This “interest free loan” represents a similar program which has repaired other public facilities, with the Harmon Industrial Park Roadway being the most recent.
The Southern High School Auditorium is a state-of-the-art facility which has unfortunately deteriorated over the years, and thus their doors have remained closed.
According to a news release from Mr. Moylan's office: "This 'Beacon of the South' can provide many educational and cultural benefits for students, not only of the school, but throughout the island. A repaired facility also has the opportunity of generating revenue for its many usages, including theater, art, and music."
“I would like to thank my colleagues of the 35th Guam Legislature for their support of this vital measure, and Governor Leon Guerrero for enacting Bill 269-35 into law. I would also like to extend an appreciation to Principal Michael Meno, Assistant Principal Darlene Roberto, and Southern High Educator, Ms. Chloe Dydasco, for initially raising this issue back in 2019, and sharing the importance of the facility.”, stated Senator Moylan. “Of course, the work is far from over, as now we are in the phase of seeking private contributors, of which my office will certainly assist in any capacity we are able to, to ensure that the objectives of this mandate are accomplished.”, added Senator Moylan.
"We were grateful for the passage of PL35-143 which approves the use of tax credits for school repairs at the SHS auditorium," superintendent of education Jon Fernandez said. "I’m hopeful we can find the right partner to complete repairs by the end of the summer so the auditorium can be ready to go when the new school year begins. That would be an aggressive timeline because it would involve full replacement of the air conditioning system."
Airmen from Andersen Air Force Base spent a weekend in January cleaning Oceanview Middle School, which is a village over from SHS. The school appeared to be in deplorable condition, sparking outrage from residents who, while they were grateful for the military volunteers, were upset at the local government's inability to keep schools safe for kids.
"I’ve spoken to Senator Moylan who is also interested in the possibility of expanding similar assistance to other schools in need," Mr. Fernandez said. "We stand by ready to support whatever assistance we can provide for school facility repairs."