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NMTI moves forward as technical institute

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Posted on Feb 25 2021

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After 180 days of transition from its original status as a trades school, the new NMTI board of trustees will officially move forward plans to kick off the Northern Marianas Technical Institute, ushering in a new and stronger era of providing more comprehensive hands-on technical training programs and resources in mechanical and skilled trades to prepare residents for job opportunities within the CNMI. 

On Aug. 13, 2020, in accordance with Public Law 20-92, which created the Northern Marianas Technical Institute, a transition committee, appointed by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios held their first meeting to guide the trades institute’s transition into a technical institute. The committee, led by board chair Mario Valentino, a construction professional with years of management experience, initiated the 180-day timeline for the committee to create a transition plan, as mandated by P.L. 20-92. 

On Feb. 9, 2021, at the end of the 180 days, Valentino submitted a transition report that included the committee’s work, while there were still pending some required items. With the submission of the transition report, the board—pursuant to P.L. 20-92, Section 8 (g)—shall have full control and supervision of the Northern Marianas Technical Institute.  

“The board of trustees will take on the necessary task of fully completing the other pending transition processes and to move forward in a new beginning for the Northern Marianas Technical Institute. The board looks forward to working together with the four-member Advisory Council…as well as an interim chief executive officer, whom the [board] will need to appoint,” said Valentino.  

The Advisory Council consists of a representative of the Northern Marianas College board of regents, CNMI State Board of Education, CNMI Department of Labor, and CNMI Department of Commerce.

Valentino noted that, as with any transition process, there will be some turbulence along the way, but has assured that the new board of trustees will ensure the completion of the process in a timely manner in accordance with the law, while also upholding the goal of strengthening NMTI for more comprehensive workforce training programs for students.  

“The NMTI board of trustees kindly asks for the public support in allowing us to work together and directly with the Advisory Council, with the guidance of the Attorney General’s Office during this period.  By minimizing the disruption, this will allow the [board] to get to work and move forward in the same direction. We take deadlines very seriously.  Right now, time is very sensitive. We want to ensure that we have a high performing and successful technical institute that will prepare our community members for the workforce and comply with the CW deadline,” added Valentino.    

With the recent award of a $10.3 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the board of trustees is grateful for all the help and support of the employees of the Northern Marianas Trades Institute, chief executive officer Agnes McPhetres and Rip Stevenson. 

“The goal of educating our residents and developing our local workforce remains the same,” said Torres. “The new board vows to continue the work and vision of NMTI founder Anthony Pellegrino, who I personally worked with as the chairman of the Education Committee when I was in the Legislature. With the EDA award, we will build a state-of-the-art facility for our students, so they can be fully ready to enter the workforce and support their families and our community.”

“NMTI is now entering a new and stronger era of providing classes and training for our people interested in the technical trades,” said Palacios. “With the board of trustees now in place, we are confident that NMTI will be better equipped to provide a high-quality education for our students.”

The NMTI board of trustees consists of Valentino, vice chair Ray Pangelinan, secretary Irene Holl, treasurer Millie Faisao, and trustees Catherine Attao, Rick Kautz, and Deron Mendiola. 

They will have an organizational meeting this Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at 2pm, in the Office of the Governor’s conference room. (PR)

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