Except for minor issues, the Public School System marked another “fairly smooth” opening of the school year yesterday, according to school administrators.
The largest school on Saipan, Marianas High School, welcomed a total of 1,466 enrollees yesterday. Its principal, Cherlyn Cabrera, attributed the smooth flow of operation to her teachers and staffers who went through the proper planning, with the aid of the PSS leadership in expediting the processing of her needed workforce.
Cabrera got the 46 teachers she needed this year. By dividing them with the initial enrollment, the students-to-teacher ratio on campus is 32:1. Though this may still be high, Cabrera said this may still change in the coming days. MHS has two vice principals and is in the process of getting another one.
What excites and pleases Cabrera the most is the new “time commitment” made by her teachers, who have vowed to stay on campus until 4:30pm each day. Classes in secondary schools are from 8:30am to 2:45pm. In previous years, teachers were given leeway to go home after their instructional hours. This year, their time commitment will go into more planning, tutoring, mentoring, and making themselves available to parents who may want to see and talk about their children.
Despite the funding challenges of the entire school district, Cabrera said that MHS’ focus is on the upcoming accreditation visit in October. She also wants to make sure that the desired proficiency in math and reading for students will be achieved.
At Hopwood Junior High School, the largest public middle school in the CNMI, students spent their first day in their homeroom classes.
Hopwood enrollment as of yesterday was at 1,209, of which over 600 are seventh graders. Registration still continues and the number is expected to slightly change.
Out of the 45 teachers it needs, Hopwood currently has 39. Based on the enrollment of 1,209 against 39 teachers, Hopwood’s students-to-teacher ratio was at 33:1 as of yesterday.
Hopwood principal Jonas Barcinas admitted that one of his bigger worries is the lack of “immediate replacements or substitutes” for teachers who may not able to report for work. If this happens, he said that a class, for example in social studies, will be split with other social studies classes.
Of his 39 teachers, Barcinas disclosed that five are instructors who have separate requirements from classroom teachers. Instructors/teacher aides need only possess degrees and are not required to pass both Praxis tests. He admitted that employing many instructors may lead to “questions or concerns” from parents on the quality of education.
Barcinas is also concerned that at least four buildings and two separate rooms were found to be infested by the termites and are unsafe for students in the long run. These are Blgs. A, C, D, E and the physical education room and the vocational education room.
Besides the termite-infested buildings, parking at the school is also unsafe for students, according to Barcinas. Under the current setup, all vehicles, including school buses and guests’ vehicles, are allowed entry inside the campus for pickup and drop-off.
Tinian, Rota opening
A smooth opening was also reported on Rota and Tinian yesterday.
Annette Calvo, vice principal of Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Jr. and Sr. High School, told Saipan Tribune that all 260 students this year arrived on time, ready for their first day of classes. Schedules have been prepared since last week for all students. The school has 11 teachers and a students-to-teacher ratio of between 24:1 and 25:1 as of yesterday.
At the Tinian Jr. and Sr. High School, principal Jennifer San Nicolas said the school welcomed 264 students yesterday. The school has 16 teachers and an average ratio of 25:1, although San Nicolas admitted that a few classes have up to 30 students for now.
A former elementary school teacher, San Nicolas is excited to begin her new experience in secondary school. Among her goals is to increase student achievement on Tinian.