Is it true?
Is it true that a total of six brand new Ford F-150 trucks have been purchased for the DOE maintenance program coordinators working out of the Department of Public Works (DPW)? The trucks are supposedly licensed with DPW plates.
What exactly is the role of these DOE maintenance coordinators and who are they? And is it true the trucks were paid for with money from the Governor’s Office?
Samoa News replies:
Yes, it’s true — six new trucks have been purchased for the six new DOE maintenance program coordinators working out of DPW, and the trucks carry DPW licenses, according to a reliable source.
Last November Gov. Lolo M. Moliga transferred the functions and staff of the DOE’s maintenance division to the Dept. of Public Works and maintenance duties have since been divided into six districts, to ensure expedited responses when requests are received.
The transfer to DPW also includes DOE funds earmarked for maintenance.
Currently, the local DOE FY 2014 budget for school maintenance is $1.4 million. It is allocated for the DOE school maintenance fund with $700,000 for maintenance materials and $700,000 under the ‘contractual service’ budget category for "school construction and renovation."
In his State of the Territory Address to the Fono last week, Lolo explained, “A new maintenance strategy has been established to ensure that maintenance requirements for each school are responded to without delay.”
He noted that traditional leaders have been employed as District Maintenance Coordinators responsible for the supervision of the highly qualified maintenance crews who shall conduct “light maintenance” for all the schools under their charge. In order to implement this new strategy, public schools have been divided into six School Maintenance Districts, inclusive of Manu’a, the governor said.
Samoa News understands the DOE maintenance coordinators and the districts they are in charge of are:
1 Former Pago Pago faipule Pulu Ae Ae Jr., Central district
2 Laupola Tipi Manu, Mid-eastern district,
3 Former OMV manager Faamausili Mau Mau Jr., Eastern district,
4 Amituana’i Vini Atofau Sr., Western district,
5 Masaniai Pili, Mid-western district, and
6 Manu’a — but it is unclear who the district supervisor is.
However, Samoa News understands the DPW and American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) crews in Manu’a are overseeing the maintenance of the schools there at this time.
When contacted for comment, no one from the DOE maintenance division could provide a name for the Manu’a coordinator, although some of them claim it is a female, whose identity cannot be confirmed by Samoa News.
As for the trucks, according to a reliable source, the six new trucks have been issued for use by the five local maintenance district coordinators, and the sixth truck is being used by maintenance division head of the DOE Kenape Aumavae, meaning the Manu’a district is not in possession of a new truck.
Samoa News understands that four of the trucks were purchased through a special account from the Governor’s Office and the other two trucks were paid for with DOE maintenance money.
The governor’s move to remove school maintenance from the DOE came to light In a Sept. 30, 2013 letter Lolo wrote to the Interior Department outlining several issues facing the territory. In his letter, the governor revealed his creation within DPW of a new Division of School Maintenance charged with the responsibility of maintaining all the public school facilities to free DOE “to strictly focus its total attention on the business of educating the children of American Samoa.”
The governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira told Samoa News last November in an update on Lolo’s move, “The idea is to have a technical team of certified plumbers, electricians and other personnel available to be dispatched immediately to any request from each district.” He said that under the setup of this network with DPW, the maintenance crew would also continue to visit school campuses every day to ensure there were no other problems that could be later identified as needing serious attention.
During his State of the Territory Address to the Fono last week, the governor also told lawmakers he is looking at transferring the school bus maintenance from DOE to DPW. “Taking these maintenance duties out of DOE will allow the DOE to focus more attention on educating students,” he reiterated.