The CNMI central government has yet to transfer to the Public School System $3 million, which could increase by the end of this month an extra two million, for a total of $5 million. Despite that, it was assured that payroll will not be held back and PSS employees will be paid on time.
This was learned during yesterday’s CNMI State Board of Education special meeting as part of Finance and Budget director Arlene Lizama’s report on the financial status of local fund transfers.
Lizama reported that the matter has already been brought to the attention of the central government, and the government has not refused or come through with the amount, but has not transferred anything as yet.
In their discussion, several PSS officials and board members took note of the government’s inconsistency in remitting the local funds on time. They pointed out that, last year, the government delivered the funds at the “eleventh hour,” giving very little time for the BOE to spend the money before the fund would have to be returned.
Ed Tenori, who is the financial management consultant of PSS, tried to clarify the government’s current situation, saying the government would wait on certain reimbursement to be received in order to pay the money owed BOE. Several board members did acknowledge the government’s situation but said they could not wait for the government to receive its reimbursements in order for PSS to release funds to pay their teachers and employees.
In an earlier discussion of the matter, it was brought up that, despite knowing that federal funds cannot be used to cover payroll, the fact that federal funds are currently available, maybe a certain amount can be loaned from the federal funds and will be paid back after they have receive the local funds from the government. No further comment was extended as to whether or not this approached will be used.
Another member suggested that the BOE write an official letter to the federal government, and the Secretary of Education, to explain the situation, and to also be accountable that the federal funding was not being used to cover local payrolls.
At the end of Lizama’s report, she assured that, with or without the local fund transfer, school payrolls will still be released on time, especially as classes are resuming and the need is evident.