After years of having no comptroller, the Public School System will soon have a new one after the Board of Education approved Friday the restoration of the position.
Along with this decision, the board also agreed to retain the positions of public information officer and assistant human resource director—both not permanently filled to date—in the system’s organizational chart.
According to Board of Education chair Herman T. Guerrero, the comptroller position is a critical post that must be filled within the system’s finance department. Its function will primarily deal with addressing potential PSS audit findings and compliance.
Guerrero disclosed that George Palican, the agency’s federal compliance monitor, will be appointed to the position. When this happens, Palican will relinquish his current post.
“The comptroller position is very critical within the finance department because it will focus on addressing any potential audit findings. George [Palican] is now doing this role and will have to relinquish his current post as soon as it is approved. For the compliance monitor officer, PSS will have the position announced,” Guerrero said.
Past PSS audits have uncovered numerous findings, many of which are classified as reoccurring. Among these deficiencies are the issue on travels and untimely recording of data. The latest audit report, however, has shown significant progress, with many findings already resolved or addressed. Guerrero said Palican was instrumental in this achievement.
During Friday’s board deliberation, which saw the participation of Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan via teleconference, board member Marylou Ada initially questioned the need to “create” new positions, including that of the PIO and HR assistant director.
Sablan indicated, however, that both posts have been in the PSS functional chart since the beginning and must be maintained. She cited some individuals who formerly occupied the HR assistant director post such as Coreen Palacios.
According to Guerrero, retaining the positions does not automatically mean that PSS has to fill those positions now.
“We agreed not to remove the PIO position because we need somebody to coordinate within the system. HR assistant director is also an important position for PSS. These two [posts] have always been there. But sometimes, it’s a matter of priority when it comes to hiring. For PSS, hiring teachers of course comes first,” Guerrero explained.
Based on the proposed PSS organizational chart, five programs will be placed under the “Special Programs” box, all directly under the associate commissioner for instructional services. These items are Head Start, Childcare, Early Intervention, and Alternative Education program.
After a lengthy discussion, board members recommended to Sablan to come up with a revised proposal that will give important programs greater visibility in the organizational chart.
Ada said that among these is the JROTC program, which was nowhere to be found on the proposed chart.
Board vice chair Lucy Blanco-Maratita also pointed out the need to give “Head Start” and “Early Intervention” programs greater importance by providing separate boxes within the chart.
Based on the proposed chart, the following are the items given special boxes: curriculum services; assessment and instructional services; program evaluation services; distance learning, library, multimedia technology; parental and community programs; Special Education; and special programs (Head Start, Childcare, Early Intervention, Alternative Education).
The board agreed to ask for a revision of the proposal for their next meeting.
“I recommend that Head Start be taken out from special program items and be placed separately because it also directly report to the board. It has also a policy council that must be included,” said Guerrero.
He also cautioned against being confused between the special education program and the early intervention program, which are entirely different programs.
This underscores the need to give early intervention equal importance on the chart. “They are two different programs but they work hand in hand,” he added.