BOE deadlocks on loan for PSS employees’ pay
A 2-2 deadlock to approve a board resolution required by the Marianas Public Land Trust to process the Public School System’s request for an over $3-million loan has further delayed PSS personnel salaries.
During a special board meeting yesterday, Board of Education chair Janice Tenorio and vice chair Herman Atalig voted no to the motion to approve the board resolution on the MPLT loan, while members Phillip Mendiola-Long and Andrew Orsini voted yes. Board member Marylou Ada was not present to vote, resulting in the deadlock and the motion’s failure
The loan is needed to pay off the last three missed PSS personnel payrolls. MPLT, however, requires a board-approved resolution on the MPLT loan to kick-start the loan process, according to Orsini.
Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada confirmed that after asking about a loan with MPLT over a week ago, they were told that a board resolution is needed to begin processing their loan of $3.4 million.
Following the deadlock, teacher representative Paul Miura voiced a concern that, by voting no to approve the resolution, Tenorio and Atalig are turning their backs on teachers.
“I’m confused. The purpose of this meeting was to get it passed so we could get the loan and pay our teachers. What’s going on? This is unbelievable. You turned your back on our teachers and employees,” said Miura.
Ada also questioned why the two board members voted no to the proposed resolution.
Tenorio, however, said she made her vote and that she did not need to explain herself.
PSS legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu explained that the resolution authorizes the education commissioner to negotiate with MPLT the terms for a loan that will be payable once PSS receives the funds it expects to get under the CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. PSS is guaranteed over $12 million in financial aid under recently passed CARES Act which they expect to receive around June.
“So currently we haven’t had direction as to when the funds would be paid. There was a discussion of paying them overtime, so that was unclear, so along with authorizing the commissioner to borrow money, the thing the board needs to decide is when we will pay back MPLT,” Mocanu said.
Additionally, the resolution also ensures that a payment to MPLT will be made once PSS receives funding from the CARES Act.