Faipule appeals to DOE director to reconsider activity fee
Tualauta faipule Florence Vaili Saulo is appealing to the DOE Director to reinstate the student activity fee which was removed when the new administration took over. This was among the points Saulo included in her letter to Vaitinasa Salu Hunkin-Finau earlier this week.
Saulo pointed out that Tualauta public schools are faced with many problems and being the most populous district in the Territory, students in both elementary and high school levels have to contend with problems ranging from unsanitary bathrooms, to shortage of desks, to vandalism.
“Compounding these problems is the fact that they are overcrowded and short of space.” She noted that during her site visit of schools she met with administrators and she’s always appreciative of the dedication and commitment they all have to education, however they can only do so much.
“… even the most capable educators can be limited by what is available to them to do their jobs and the sooner we can act to relieve them of these distractions, the sooner they can refocus their complete attention to what they do best: teaching our students,” she wrote.
Saulo listed the schools independently, and itemized some of the problems that stood out during her visits:
Tafuna High School – 1,255 Students
Shortage of desks for students (Students sitting on the floor during lessons.)
Shortage of clean water (8 dispensers and 20 bottles per week, which by Wednesday has run out, without refills.)
Air con units in state of disrepair (Some do not work. Others work but do not dispense cold air.)
Art room space unable to accommodate pottery class.
Printers need repairing. Most of them do not work.
Lupelele Elementary – 887 Students
Classroom and office doors need locks (Prevent break-ins and vandalism.)
Library has no air conditioning unit
Some computers lack proper keyboards and mouse (accessories)
Pava’ia’i Elementary – 1,606 Students
Shortage of bathrooms, given the number of students attending (Elementary is combined with ECE classes (K3 to K5))
Cafeteria not big enough to accommodate all students during breakfast and lunch
Shortage of chairs and desks for classrooms
Manulele Elementary – 1,163 Students
No streetlights on campus (Extremely dark at night.)
School compound fence needs to be replaced
Bathrooms need improvements
Water pressure very low
Cafeteria floor needs retiling
Shortage of chairs and desks for both students and teachers
Flooding on field and playground every time it rains
Tafuna Elementary – 998 Students (and increasing)
Shortage of clean water for students to drink during school hours
More bathrooms needed. (The only two bathrooms available also have problems that need to be fixed. Bathroom behind cafeteria floods every time it rains.)
Perimeter fence needs to be fixed urgently. (School administrator reported six break-ins last school year, and still more this year. Break-ins have lead to vandalism and destruction of school property and buildings.
Saulo noted that there’s much that needs to be done to bring Tualauta schools up to par with acceptable learning conditions. The Tualauta faipule pointed out she has made school improvements one of the urgent focuses of her tenure in office, as it is her belief that children’s needs come first.
“If we fail in giving them the best education now, then we have failed them in the long run because they will not be receiving the foundation necessary to compete with the rest of the world. That is why I stand ready to work with you, your Department and this Administration, to do all that can be done for our schools.”
She then appealed to the DOE Director regarding the possibility of re-instituting the student activity fee. “I realize your position is that it may be inconsistent with federal law, however, I implore you to take a look at it again in order to see if there is a way to put something similar in place to assist the Government with funding some of these improvements that are desperately needed. As you know, the best laid out plans are good for nothing if we do not have the resources to put them into action."
She offered that "perhaps another form of the student activity fee can be had that can address your concerns. Again, I am willing to work with you on something that can generate additional revenue to at least help us deal with the issues with our public schools.”