NMC expected to stress need for more resources


The Northern Marians College is set to meet with the Legislature at 1:30pm today on its proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

College president Dr. Sharon Hart stressed their lack of resources in a public hearing earlier this week.

Hart called the lack of resources as the “elephants in the room” when it came to investing in their programs and growing to meet workforce needs.

Thousands of jobs in the CNMI remain filled by foreign workers ahead of the expiration of the contract worker program in 2019.

The college had been trying to increase its relevance to workforce development.

Recent data estimates for fiscal 2014 show that college estimated to spend about $275, 337 on wages and salaries for their apprenticeship program. This amount comes from allocated contract worker fee funds.

A total of $130,000 was estimated to be spent on contractual services and the rest on supplies and travel expenses.

The apprenticeship program, though, remains a tough sell as a certified program by federal standards would require wages and salaries competitive with peer markets.

Right now, the governor’s proposed budget for NMC, sitting with the House Ways and Means Committee, is at $4.48 million.

The college had submitted a budget request of $8.481 million to the Office of the Governor last month. They are receiving $4.4 million in local appropriations for this fiscal year.

For two years now, the college had proposed a line item for salary adjustments totaling $686,000. Some $200,000 for faculty ranking adjustments was also proposed.

The college has explained the need to adjust salary pay to retain instructors and meet the required administrative capacity per accreditation standards.

A line item added last year and sought again is for $686,000 in salary adjustments for all staff and faculty, as well $200,000 for faculty ranking adjustments.

In their fiscal 2015 “budget narrative,” they said adjusting faculty salaries was “essential” to meeting accreditation standards.

In 2013, the college said, one reason they were on “show cause” status from their accrediting commission was a failure to meet the “administrative capacity” requirement.

“One of the key reason identified in the report as to why the college was having difficulty over the years in sustaining administrative capacity was due to low salaries and lack of increases given to both administrators and all other employees,” the college wrote.

The college stated then that it will be setting salary benchmarks at 85 percent the average of its peers.

“The college must continue to meet and or/exceed this eligibility requirement or its accreditation will once again be at risk. Our salaries must be adjust accordingly,” the college wrote.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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