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Tafuna High parents and PTA against moving E-Rate to lower campus

Tafuna High School sign
PTA president solicits help from DOE director in appeal to the governor

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The government’s plan to relocate the Education Department’ E-Rate Office from Utulei, as well as other ASDOE offices, to the lower campus of Tafuna High School is not sitting well with parents as well as the high school’s Parents and Teachers Association (PTA).

The plan was briefly mentioned at last week’s cabinet meeting, but word had already reached many parents earlier this month following a Samoa News report of plans by ASDOE to relocate E-rate to the lower campus of Tafuna High. Several parents also learned of the plan, through others in ASDOE offices.

“There is so much other government land around the Tafuna area that could be used by the Education Department instead of the high school’s campus, which is used for many school activities,” according to one parent. “Why not use one of these many vacant properties instead of trying to crowd up a high school campus that has a large student population.”

The same sentiment was echoed by four other parents who reached out to Samoa News, saying that many parents of students at Tafuna High School have questioned why the Lolo Administration is “so set on putting” more ASDOE offices on the lower campus.

Tafuna PTA president William E. Sptizenberg shared similar concerns in a Sept. 21st letter to Education director, Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, who’s support was sought by PTA for its petition that will be sent this week to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga “to keep the lower campus as part of Tafuna High School where it is much needed.”

Sptizenberg reminded the director that Tafuna High “is the most overcrowded school we have on the island” and having this lower campus really helps the high school manage the many classes it offers and separate out its student body without overwhelming the upper campus and staff.

He points out that the lower campus has been home to the school’s “well known JROTC program, which has provided many opportunities to our students to pursue successful careers in the armed forces.”

Additionally many of the school’s “JROTC graduates serve our country well and have achieved high ranks and prestigious awards in the military.”

“The student body for this school year is well over 1,200 students and with the limited classrooms we have at the upper campus, this lower campus is very much needed by the school,” he explained. “It’s wide open field also serves as a place for... many school activities, including Samoan day festivities, JROTC drills, practice field, and many other important uses.”

While the PTA understands ASG’s desire to relocate ASDOE to Tafuna, “we feel that the vacant land fronting ASDOE’s property next to our lower campus is sufficient land for any new” ASDOE offices.

Furthermore, land across from Pala Lagoon- Lions Park has much vacant land that could support ASDOE’s space requirements if needed, the PTA notes.

“We strongly believe that the land surrounding public schools should be reserved for future growth of the schools to better serve our children, the future leaders of our community,” he said and points out that the PTA stands “together in support of keeping the lower campus where it rightfully belongs, to Tafuna High School.”

He said the PTA will submit its formal petition to the governor later this week “to request this favor and look forward to your support to keep this lower campus area as part of Tafuna High School  for our children's future and for the betterment of our people.”

The petition will be submitted to the governor on Friday this week and the PTA is hoping for a reply from Dr. Matagi-Tofiga by tomorrow, Thursday