Bill seeks to amend quorum requirement for BOE
With the Board of Education thrice failing to reach a quorum in its last three meetings, Rep. Manny Gregory T. Castro (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. John Paul Sablan (Ind-Saipan) are offering a bill that seeks to amend the quorum requirement.
Castro (Ind-Saipan), who chairs the House Committee on Education, and Sablan pre-filed House Bill 23-20 last Friday, March 3, to reduce the BOE’s quorum requirements from four to three.
In a news release yesterday, Castro said, “Each year during the budget call we always hear education leaders chant ‘Students First.’ But it is not enough for leaders to say that students are important or put student issues on their mental to-do list. They need to walk the walk. Our Public School System must be managed— from the boardroom to the frontline—in ways that optimize talent attraction, retention, and performance.”
The BOE serves as the rule-making authority that oversees and implements policies that govern the Public School System. It was unable to meet the quorum requirement during meetings last Feb. 1, Feb. 14, and Feb. 24, which means no decisions were made.
“When the BOE is unable to establish quorum, it puts the entire system in jeopardy. As an autonomous agency PSS is responsible for making decisions with limited interference from the government.
“With the availability of modern technology and the multiple reasonable accommodations that were made to allow the absent members to appear one way or another, it is unfortunate that some members have elected not to perform their obligations,” Sablan said.
The bill will now undergo a review process and will be subject to further discussion and potential amendments before it can be passed into law.
The BOE first failed to organize because two of its five elected members—board member Andrew L. Orsini of Saipan and member Herman M. Atalig of Rota—walked out of the meeting.
Orsini and Atalig wanted to have a closed-door session, which Atalig voted yes to, but the three others, chair Gregory P. Borja, vice chair Antonio L. Borja, and secretary/treasurer Maisee B. Tenorio, voted no.
Then at their second meeting, Atalig and Orsini were absent due to the former being off-island and the latter being on medical leave. At their last meeting, Atalig and Orsini were absent once again.
Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada believes that the BOE will come to a quorum soon. “I am confident that they will come together and meet a quorum and meet to discuss.”
As of now, even with the BOE behind a month, operations are still in place. “We are still moving forward. Most of the documents that are time-sensitive, we stamp dates on them so when the board finally comes together and ratifies, we can go back to those stamped dates.”
When asked what the BOE needs to act on, Ada said it’s the PSS’ accountability policy. The accountability policy is PSS’ report card on reading, math, and attendance. Ada said he is hesitant to publish it until the board approves the policy.
“Once the board assembles, that’s what we will be looking into,” added Ada.
The BOE’s next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 16.