INSTEAD OF RELOCATING
Estimated $24M in FEMA funds to be used
The Public School System is now thinking of just rebuilding the Herbert G. Hopwood Middle School instead of relocating the entire campus after it was completely destroyed by Super Typhoon Yutu in October last year.
PSS informed the House Ways and Means Committee during their annual budget hearing last Monday morning that they are expecting an estimated $24 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and they are looking to use all of that to rebuild Hopwood.
Education Commissioner Glenn Muña told legislators Monday that, at the moment, it would be more feasible for PSS to rebuild the campus rather than relocate it or rebuild a new one.
In a separate interview, Muña estimates that building a new campus would cost at least $60 million.
“If we were to [build] another school, I am estimating anywhere between $60 million and $80 million for a school to accommodate the number of students at Hopwood,” he said.
This school year, Hopwood’s student population is roughly 1,000.
Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” Guerrero (R-Saipan) pointed out during the budget hearing that the idea of building a new Hopwood campus is more complex than just building a new site. He noted that the current troubles with manpower in the CNMI would effectively prolong the construction of a new campus.
“…That also is our biggest challenge,” Muña said, recognizing the lawmaker’s concerns. “We all know the timeframe of three to four years is most likely going to extend if we are going to build a new school because of [the] challenge in our workforce.”
Muña acknowledges that money would be coming in but he noted that the $24 million is only an estimate and might change. However, the $24 million reported to him by FEMA officials is already inclusive of PSS content, books, tablets, computers, and other educational materials that were also wiped out by Super Typhoon Yutu.
“How much exactly for building damage and content damage, I don’t know,” Muña said.
The $24-million figure, according to Muña, is the estimated figure that PSS would receive according to FEMA officials who visited about two weeks ago.