PSS clears debt with teachers

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Posted on May 25 2020

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The Public School System has cleared over $800,000 worth of debt it owed its teachers and staff after receiving the over $23 million from the Education Stabilization fund under the CARES Act.

Last Friday, PSS paid $504,409.88 for pay period 9 and $307,244.38 for pay period 10 after receiving the Education Stabilization funding, according to Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada. That clears all the amounts that PSS owed its staff. “We cleared all the payrolls: payroll 8, payroll 9, and payroll 10. We received the $23 million last week,” he said.

On top of clearing out the missed payrolls of teachers and other PSS personnel, PSS was also able to pay off its vendors.

With that problem resolved, the next step, Ada said, is the reopening of schools in September, which means lifting furloughs for teachers. “Twenty-three million dollars is a lot of money. Twenty-three million is enough to open and get by but I’m trying to do as much cost-saving as possible. Hopefully, we don’t go through another payless payday,” he said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, though, the plan to immediately lift the furlough has changed, Ada said. Instead, all furloughed personnel would remain furloughed until Aug. 1. That means there is a possibility that teachers may not receive their summer pay, he said.

Ada explained that if summer pay is considered income by the Department of Labor, teachers and staff will not qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. “The summer pay, we are awaiting the legal opinion from the Department of Labor because it’s summer pay, it’s money that’s supposed to go to the teachers but there’s a difference of opinion that it is considered an income wage. If we release the summer pay, it’s going to be considered income, even though that was owed to them according to their contract because they’re on a 190-day teaching contract,” he said.

If it were up to him, Ada would like to pay teachers their summer pay.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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