The Public School System noted last week that they had recently been experiencing funding transmittal delays from the Department of Finance. However, it assured the Board of Education that the delays are not affecting operations.
Education Commissioner Glenn Muña reported during the board’s meeting last week that there had been delays with the transmittal of funds from the central government since last year, but these incidents have had no effect on operations.
“Whenever there is a delay you have to revisit your priorities, but…we have been working with the Department of Finance Secretary Larissa Larson to transfer [funds] and she has been very supportive so far,” Muña said in an interview last week. “We are very thankful for that.”
PSS was appropriated $42.8 million for operations in fiscal year 2019. However, they reported to the BOE that they just recently got funding that was supposedly for the first two weeks of December 2018. PSS further reported that they are currently a-month-and-a-half behind in funding transmittals despite a twice-a-month transmittal structure.
While Muña noted that Larson did not provide a reason for the delays, he suspects Super Typhoon Yutu to have played a role since the airport was shut down for over a month, effectively putting to a complete halt the tourism industry of the CNMI’s main source of revenue.
“Before the typhoon, they were on time,” Muña noted.
Super Typhoon Yutu hit the CNMI in late October 2018.
According to Muña, he also took into consideration that both the central government and PSS had immediate expenditures to fund, such as Super Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts and shelter activations throughout Saipan and Tinian.
“We are working closely with the secretary of Finance and we are thankful for that great working relationship,” he said.
BOE chair Janice Tenorio said in a separate interview that she has faith in Muña to address the situation and avert the loss of salaries for PSS employees and services for the community. She clarified later that PSS is still good despite the delays and that the threat of delayed salaries isn’t urgent.
“We have been in constant communication with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who is in full support of having…money moved as needed,” said Tenorio. She further noted that she, former chair BOE Marylou Ada, Muña, and Larson had been in communication with Torres about the delays.