The Northern Marianas Technical Institute’s plan to reopen in September is now tentative because it has no funds to prepare for the resumption of classes.
According to NMTI chief executive officer Agnes McPhetres, the plan to reopen the school in September requires about $200,000 that they don’t have. NMTI did ask CNMI Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente for $200,000 as its share of what is called CW funds, which is the amount employers pay to hire foreign workers, so NMTI can start preparing for the next school year by recalling its 23 furloughed employees.
McPhetres added that NMTI is entitled to the CW funds but the DOL secretary is the expenditure authority. “So I sent a letter to Vicky, asking for additional funding. I gave her a deadline. I told her I want my employees to be back by Aug. 1 so we can have a one-month preparation to open the trade school,” she said, adding that she sent the request to Benavente last Monday.
The $200,000 NMTI is asking for will pay the instructors’ payroll for the five pay periods left in the current fiscal year, as well as instructional services such as transportation and student registration, McPhetres said.
In fiscal year 2020, the CNMI government received about $2.4 million in CW funds, she said. “I know we still have money from those funds because we only spent $450,000 and our projection for the whole year is $1.3 million,” said McPhetres.
Employers petitioning for CW-1 permits for their foreign workers pay a mandatory $200 education fee for each permit. Everything collected from the mandatory education fee is transferred to the CNMI government to fund vocational education, apprenticeships, or other training programs for U.S. workers.
McPhetres said in a prior interview that the trade school was supposed to receive $2.4 million in CW funds in fiscal year 2020 and a similar amount in fiscal year 2021. As of June, she said, NMTI had only received $450,000.