PSS asking for $55M for FY ’19
A Tinian senator believes that since the Public School System requests for a budget that is over the constitutionally mandated minimum, then it’s high time that the Legislature review the mandate.
Sen. Francisco Cruz (R-Tinian) during yesterday’s PSS budget hearing for their fiscal year 2019 budget said that the CNMI Constitution’s mandate of 25 percent general funds entitled to PSS needs to be reviewed since they request for an annual budget well above the mandate. The Senate Committee on Fiscal Affairs chaired by Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) conducted the public hearing.
For fiscal year 2019, PSS is asking for $55 million, while Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ budget proposal was at $41.8 million. The House of Representatives last week passed Rep. Angel A. Demapan’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-173 on first and final reading. The legislation concurred with Torres’ proposal for PSS.
“This is the case for every budget—PSS still needs more than 25 percent. I believe that the Legislature may need to pass another initiative to get [PSS] more than 25 percent every year so that PSS will be satisfied,” Cruz said before the committee and representatives of PSS. Cruz also clarified that he was in support of PSS and their financial needs.
Board of Education member Herman Guerrero rebutted that the 25 percent mandate of the CNMI Constitution was merely the minimum appropriation allowed for PSS.
“The Legislature can give us more than that. [The constitutional mandate] is only a guarantee that PSS is properly funded,” Guerrero said.
PSS, in their budget hearing, reported that their focuses for this year include the improvement of school facilities and amenities; making investments on instructional materials; the retention and recruitment efforts for teachers through attractive compensation; and joining the fight against obesity.
Acting PSS commissioner Jackie Quitugua also added that mental health security of students also remains a priority for the PSS.
“We need now to pay attention how we address…everyone that exists on campus to be able to provide 100 percent quality support for our children,” she said.
“We try our very best to make do with what we have,” she added.