Austerity measures could hit NMC classes, programs

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Posted on Jun 04 2019

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Northern Marianas College interim president Frankie Eliptico, left, shakes the hand of Department of Finance Secretary David Atalig after last Monday’s NMC budget hearing for the House Ways and Means Committee. (Erwin Encinares) 

The Northern Marianas College found out yesterday about another round of austerity measures that doubles their budget cuts, and that could result in further impacts to classes and programs at the CNMI’s lone college.

During yesterday’s fiscal year 2020 budget hearing, NMC discovered that the $400,000 that was cut from its budget in fiscal year 2019 was only half of its supposed budget cut after the central government’s announcement of austerity measures.

The upper ranks of the NMC administration has already absorbed the cut, getting a 10-percent reduction in their work hours. Instructional faculty members’ work hours were left untouched to keep all classes and programs intact.

However, according to interim president Frankie Eliptico, the college is expected to give up 30 percent of its remaining budget for fiscal year 2019, or roughly $800,000. The communication about the additional cuts, according to Eliptico, never got to his desk.

“…NMC’s cut for the current fiscal year may be deeper than what was communicated to the college earlier this year,” Eliptico said in an interview.

With roughly double the budget cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year, Eliptico noted that drastic measures such as the cancellation of classes are possible to meet the cuts.

That would impact some programs, meaning “classes that are offered to our students,” Eliptico said. “To what extent, we don’t know.”

He wishes the CNMI Legislature could offer possible alternatives to prevent the possible disruption of classes.

“We are getting ready to graduate our students…and we are ready to begin our fall semester in two months,” Eliptico said. “We want to open our semester with 100 percent of the courses and classes that we are hoping to offer anyway.”

“…We need to determine what is the best course of action to minimize the impact to our students because, ultimately, they are who we serve and who we work for, so we want to make sure that any budget cuts are not significantly felt by [the students] and their journey to their degrees are not hampered or obstructed,” Eliptico said.

He told Saipan Tribune that NMC received only a memo from the Office of the Governor last March 22, 2019, informing him of the austerity measures. Eliptico noted that NMC was the first government entity to implement the cuts.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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