Over 600 teachers are set to receive $2,000 each in incentive pay before Christmas after the Board of Education unanimously approved yesterday the motion to adopt the Retention Incentive Program.
During the board meeting yesterday, four out of five board members voted yes to approve the motion to release the $1.3 million in bonus pay for PSS teachers, counselors, librarians, instructors, principals, and vice principals under the Retention Incentive Program.
BOE member Marylou Ada was not present to give her vote, but BOE chair Janice Tenorio, BOE vice chair Herman Atalig, BOE member Andrew Orsini, and BOE Tinian representative Phillip Mendiola-Long were present.
The approval would kickstart the process of releasing the first installment of checks worth $1,000 to over 600 teachers, principals, vice principals, and certified educators by the end of the week. The next payment of $1,000 will be at the end of the school year.
According to Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada, he was going to meet with the Department of Finance staff yesterday to expedite the release of the bonuses.
“I will ask them first if it’s doable and if we can do this expediently before Friday. If they say no, then we’re going to [come up with] a plan on how to do it,” he said.
At the meeting, Mendiola-Long and Orsini brought up their concerns whether teacher aides are considered educators by the U.S. Department of Education, which administers the funds for the incentive program, because a provision in the program states that educators are eligible for the incentive.
Both Mendiola-Long and Orsini argued that teacher aides should be included in the incentive program because, by BOE definition, they are educators since they devote their time to educating students, specifically special needs children, just like instructors and teachers, just without the qualifications like bachelor’s and associate degrees.
“We’re going to get clarification before the end of the year from the Department of Education to specify who are really entitled under educators,” Orsini said.
Ada said that he will work on getting clarification from USDOE and including teacher aides in the incentive program because he strongly believes that teacher aides are educators too.
“First, we’re going to inquire from the USDOE and then we’re going make our arguments that teacher aides are included as educators and I’m really confident that they will agree with us,” he said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh discovered the Retention Incentive Program under Project Restart, a federal program that awards grants that can be used for school operations, recruitment of teachers, renewal of teachers, rewards, and performance incentives for teachers.