While the Public School System has started its registration for the grade school level, the government isn’t certain whether funding is forthcoming to allow the kindergarten program to continue.
Amid protests from the public, Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman Heinz Hofschneider admitted that the program may be suspended until appropriate funding has been identified.
“Our main concern is to comply with the Constitutional mandate,” he said. The mandate provides free education for children from six to 16 years of age.
Although, the present administration has been receptive to the needs of PSS, Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio hesitates to assure the community that the kindergarten program will continue this coming school year.
“It is very unfortunate that our resources are not improving and we have other obligations aside from education,” he told Saipan Tribune.
According to Hofschneider, it is not feasible for PSS to pass on its kindergarten program to the federal funded, Headstart.
Earlier, the Board of Education proposed to expand the Headstart program in the absence of the kindergarten classes at various schools.
“The only people who will qualify are those who are economically strap and those who will meet the federal criteria,” he said.
Commissioner of Education Rita H. Inos has been vocal about the pending suspension of the kindergarten program even if some members of the Board and other PSS officials disagree with her.
She has instructed schools to open the registration for grade one and up but not for kindergarten.
With the limited resources for the next fiscal year, Inos is also eyeing to include the 18 certified teachers who are currently assigned in the kindergarten program to the teaching pool for the primary level.
The group will be able to fill in teaching vacancies in the lower grade since PSS is not in the position to recruit additional teachers.