The CNMI Public School System is depending on their eligibility to receive over $12 million from the U.S. Coronavirus Supplemental Appropriation to continue operating for the rest of the school year.
In a Board of Education meeting last Saturday, Tim Thornburgh, PSS federal program manager, told the board that PSS can expect $12.6 million from the U.S. emergency supplemental funding under the Education Stabilization Fund. The Northern Marianas College is also eligible for $14 million under the act.
“One of the components of the $2.3-trillion emergency supplemental funding is the Education Stabilization Fund and what we’re going to get from that is $12.6 million, $14 million for the college, and then there is $3 million for the governor, which he must use to help PSS or the college or split it between the two. Hopefully we get $2 [million] or $3 million more to bring us up to $15 million,” said Thornburgh.
PSS hopes to receive the funding by May 25.
PSS is depending on this funding because PSS has received word from the Department of Finance that, with the dwindling CNMI revenue collection, there is a possibility that the allocated funding for PSS could get zeroed out.
PSS received only a little over $700,000 last month; its monthly allocation should be $1.3 million.
Thornburgh explained that the funding would come directly from the U.S. Department of Education when the application is approved.
“The way the law is written, the department has 30 days to receive the application, and then in the next 30 days they must approve the application, so we’re talking maybe May 25, we should have approval,” he said.
Thornburgh said the allocation is to be used to keep school employees and contractors paid during the COVID-19 crisis. “Essentially what they want us to do is make certain that, to the greatest extent, we can continue to pay our employees and our contractors,” he said.