From 31 new hires last week, the teachers’ count slightly improved to 48 this week, according to Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D., during Tuesday’s board meeting.
Sablan said, however, that a few more teaching positions remain vacant due to the difficulty in finding qualified individuals.
The new school year 2013-2014 is set to start on Sept. 3.
Sablan bared that hard-to-fill teaching posts are in secondary schools, specifically in the subject areas of geometry, chemistry, algebra, science, and English, among others.
Acting PSS human resource officer Lucretia Borja told Saipan Tribune that the system, as of this week, has about 935 employees, of which over 400 are classroom teachers. The number will slightly grow if the remaining vacant teaching positions are filled.
According to Sablan, there are still six teaching positions that have to be filled for Saipan Southern High School, Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Jr./Sr. High School, and William S. Reyes Elementary.
“We’re very happy this year that majority of our schools have completed the recruitment [process] except for six positions that are yet to be filled. We’re now working with a placement services agency to help us screen a highly qualified and effective teacher in the area of math, science, and English,” she said.
All the newly hired teachers are just replacements for posts that were vacated at the end of the last school year and during the summer period.
Sablan reiterated that hiring more teachers would only happen if the new budget for PSS will permit it.
Under its budget proposal for fiscal year 2014, PSS asked for the restoration of about a hundred positions in public schools, mostly classroom teachers. The Board of Education and PSS earlier submitted a $40-million budget request for the new fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1, 2013.
However, based on the budget approved by the Senate and rejected Tuesday by the House of Representatives, public schools would only get $33 million—a $3-million increase from fiscal year 2013’s budget of $30 million.
“We have indicated [to the Legislature] that we do have schools with large class sizes and we’re hoping the budget they will pass soon will allow us to fill new positions that we requested in our proposal,” Sablan said.
If in case PSS gets $33 million this new fiscal year, Sablan said this will possibly allow them to hire more teachers, albeit not the 100 posts PSS wants to restore.
Many public schools on island currently have no vice principals, counselors, and truant officers due to the limited budget it gets from the local government.