New law to bring millions more to CNMI schools
WASHINGTON, DC—As a result of the Every Student Succeeds Act, public education in the Northern Mariana Islands is about to get a major boost, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) announced yesterday.
Overall, the new law will increase Title I-A funding to the insular areas by 30 percent. The Northern Marianas, however, is expected to receive a 60-percent increase over its current funding. That will bring a total of $11.1 million to the CNMI Public School System in 2017. Further increases should continue through 2020.
President Obama has indicated he will sign the Every Student Succeeds Act into law on Thursday.
“Public school officials have told me they will use this new money to hire more teachers and reduce student-teacher ratios in our schools,” Sablan said. “And we know from educational research that lower student-teacher ratios improve student performance.
“I remain convinced that education is key to the success of our people and our economy now, and 10, 20, 30 years into the future.”
Sablan has been working to strengthen education funding to the Northern Marianas since he first came to office in 2009. At that time, PSS was receiving just $3.6 million in Title I-A funds. The $11.1 million that PSS can now expect in 2017 represents a 208 percent increase.
“I am particularly grateful because this is the only change in the Title I-A funding formula that was included in the entire bill. This is one of the most difficult changes in law that I have worked on for the Northern Mariana Islands,” said Sablan.
“It would not have been possible without the understanding and support of Chairman John Kline and Ranking Member Bobby Scott of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. I also owe special thanks to Ranking Member Marcia Fudge of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.”
Earlier this year, Sablan introduced H.R. 851, which separated Title I-A funding for the insular areas and Bureau of Indian Education schools, and increased funds for both. Sablan’s proposals were incorporated in the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Title I-A helps low-income communities like the Northern Mariana Islands by providing special federal funding for their school systems. It is the nation’s largest federal aid program for K-12 public education.
The new law also makes the Northern Marianas eligible to compete for Preschool Development Grants and Education Innovation and Research Grants, which were previously open only to states.
The additional funding for the Northern Marianas and the other insular areas is contingent on the passage of 2017 appropriations that increase Title I-A funding overall to ensure that the states do not lose funding. Sufficient appropriations to support the increase are projected for 2017.
Every Student Succeeds is not the first increase for education during Sablan’s term in office. He also worked with the Department of Education to make adjustments in funding based on the 2010 Census, which showed a 55-percent rise in children living in poverty in the Northern Marianas since 2000. Funding did go up for NMI schools, from $3.6 million in 2009, to $4 million in 2012, and to $6.6 million in 2015.
Sablan says he is now looking forward to working with the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the coming year on legislation to enhance higher education.