A seasoned educator from Tinian has been named new chairperson of the 7th Board of Education during a special inaugural ceremonies yesterday, where she and other board members took their oath.
Newly-installed Chairperson Frances H. Diaz is faced with challenges relating to keeping public schools open, thereby continuously delivering educational services, despite financial constraints.
Former Dandan Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association president Roman Benavente, the newest member to the board, was elected vice president.
In her report, outgoing Chairperson Esther Fleming said her administration hurdled financial hardships over the past two years, apparently providing the new BOE leadership an outlook of what to expect.
Ms. Fleming noted the struggles her administration had to go through since she was BOE chairperson during the time the CNMI was heavily afflicted with acute shortage of revenues spawned by the decline of regional and local economies.
She mentioned that the Public School System, over the years, had been forced to downsize on many aspects of public education because of budgetary constraints.
“It was a most eventful year mainly because of budget constraints. It was always a struggle to having to do more with the little that PSS has,” said Ms. Fleming.
PSS suspended a number of teacher training and other special programs, that would have been beneficial to public school students, due to insufficient funding.
Ms. Fleming said the hardest challenge is to keep the schools open and running sans disruptions despite the government-installed cost-cutting measures.
During her leadership, BOE managed to keep the kindergarten afloat, pay the pending liabilities owed to multi-track teachers and the 30 percent bonus to retirees.
BOE has also obtained the $15 million General Obligation bond for infrastructure development, and secured $30 million worth of funds for the construction of new junior high schools, additional classrooms and other related renovations.
Works for the completion of the much-delayed Marianas High School gymnasium has also resumed, and is now being fast-tracked in time for the first batch of 21st century graduates.