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6/19/2015

Marianas Variety

(OSRR) – Sen. Rory Respicio's Bill No. 69-33 (COR), which provides that school days lost due to typhoons or other reasons be made up in the school calendar outside of the Easter and Christmas breaks, has been signed into law by Gov. Eddie Calvo.

Discussions with Guam Department of Education officials and the Guam Federation of Teachers resulted in strongly favorable testimony on the bill during its public hearing before the Committee on Public Education chaired by Sen. Nerissa Underwood, who was also a co-sponsor of the measure.

"This legislation was sponsored to give voice to the concerns of many teachers and families of students who would prefer more regularity in the planning process for make-up days in the school year. Reducing the Christmas and Easter breaks to make up for lost instructional days has, in the past, proven to be disruptive of plans made by both teachers and families for travel and other purposes during these scheduled breaks," said Respicio.

During the public hearing on the measure, Guam Education Board Chair Peter Ada offered an emotional plea that the legislature expedite the bill so that a school calendar could be set early. He said teachers were depending on this to plan off-island trips and, “some of them are paying round trip and we want to make sure that we have an end date that they can plan for.”

Sen. Respicio said he was pleased that the successful legislation has brought the GEB and the GFT together to bring about a needed reform. “This bill enhances the flexibility and authority of the Guam Education Board while taking into account the views of both teachers and the families of students,” the senator said.

Bill 50

Another Respicio bill recently passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor was Bill 50-33, which seeks to ensure that Guam courts continue vital services to the community.

Guam’s Judiciary and the court system it operates requires knowledge and expertise from a variety of professionals, including those who perform key work in support of juvenile justice, adult probation, mental health and substance abuse programs.

Under current law, as these Judiciary personnel reach retirement age, laws meant to prevent “double-dipping” by government retirees penalize them for offering services needed by the government.

As a result, sought after employees living on Guam may simply opt for retirement without work, lacking the incentive of continuing to receive their pension during periods of employment, for purposes such as providing direct therapeutic, psychological, evaluative, consultative, and educational services to the court, its clientele, and the community.

Respicio said his Bill 50-33 (COR) will allow the Guam Judiciary to employ retired certified, registered, or licensed health care professionals and ancillary service personnel. This was seconded by Administrator of the Courts Joshua Tenorio during his public hearing testimony on the bill. Bill 50-33 was co-sponsored by Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., who has oversight over the Judiciary.

Tenorio said continuing to have access to such expertise is the key to ongoing reforms by the Judiciary which should lead in time to lower crime and recidivism rates.