New OIA Public Schools Initiative Will Empower Island Communities

Date: March 28, 2011
For more information please contact:
Rebecca Zepeda (202) 208-6974

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) announced today the launching of the Insular Schools: Assessment of Buildings and Classrooms (Insular A, B, C’s) initiative.  The initiative follows on the availability of an OIA report entitled U.S. Insular Areas Education Facility Inventory and Condition Assessment Study (Phase I). OIA contracted the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to generate a report that provides a rudimentary, initial assessment of public schools throughout the territories.

According to the report, throughout the US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, there are a total of 1,561 public buildings which help comprise a total of 125 campuses and serve a total population of 70,750 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In addition, Phase I supports and makes recommendations for undertaking an additional, more focused study.

“From the collaboration between OIA and ACOE, it was clear that continuing the study would result in a useful tool which will empower island leaders and local departments of education when making decisions on how to prioritize scarce resources,” said Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta.

Insular ABC’s will continue the OIA/ACOE partnership and add to it leadership from the island’s Executive Branches and Departments of Education.  Working with local officials, Insular ABC’s will develop a thorough baseline inventory and assessment of all elementary, middle and high school buildings over the next 14 months.

The information gathered by the initiative will provide island decision-makers with insights concerning the overall physical condition of all public school facilities; an accounting of deferred maintenance and replacement values; and indentify trends in maintenance practices and requirements in order to pinpoint opportunities for efficiencies.

“Ultimately, every island community has as its core concerns, the future and opportunities we provide to our children.  Though we will continue to struggle with the challenges to fund new school construction, we can still make wise decisions with current resources.  Insular ABC’s can be the blueprint for future improvements and current maintenance to every island school system,” said Babauta.

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