Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan says the central government is still required to give the Public School System $7 million in unremitted maintenance-of-effort funds, pursuant to the mandates of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
This comes after Sablan confirmed that the U.S. Department of Education issued no response or action to the proposal of the CNMI government to change the formula in calculating the MOE award.
The CNMI received in 2009 $44 million in SFSF funds, of which $32.3 million is for public education.
When the CNMI was awarded the SFSF grant, one of the conditions was that PSS must be given a specific amount of the overall budget of the CNMI government—at the time equivalent to 40 cents to $1 dollar or 25 percent of the overall CNMI government budget.
The issue over the MOE formula came to light after the CNMI government filed a waiver application for it in 2012. The USDOE has not issued a response up to now.
“The fact that there’s no decision [by USDOE] means we have to live with the first decision, which is good for PSS. The MOE’s first formula remains and that has not changed,” Sablan told Saipan Tribune.
Saipan Tribune learned that in PSS books, the central government owes it $7 million in unremitted MOE for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.
Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan just wants the whole matter done and over with.
“For me, I wanted it resolved. I just want that MOE issue out of the way. The whole issue here is that the central government owes us millions of money that is badly needed in our classrooms. It’s the government’s responsibility to pay us,” she said.
Once they receive the funds, it will all be utilized for the classroom and instructional needs of schools.
She is firm that there’s no way all or a portion of this unremitted MOE will be used to pay CUC arrears.
“Whatever federal money we get from MOE will go to the classrooms where it belongs,” she added.
As to when this money will go to PSS is uncertain up to this time.
Saipan Tribune learned that the original amount of unremitted MOE for PSS was $11 million. However, in the late part of school year 2010-2011, the central government remitted some $2.6 million to pay for personnel salary.