The $61.7 million Stabilization Fund that the Public School System received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, made it easier to stay on-track with paying all PSS staff, according to Board of Education chair Andrew Orsini.
He said that PSS got the $61.7 million last Jan. 13, ensuring that PSS staff will be paid on time.
“Immediately…when we officially received the $61 million and when I got in as chairman, I immediately reinstated the 80 hours because of the fact that we have the means to sustain ourselves,” said Orsini.
Even with the central government struggling with the economy, PSS was able to stay afloat and get back to 80 hours. As for the local funds that the central government should have been remitting to PSS, Orsini said they are still a little short but understands that the central government is struggling.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, PSS went back to 80 hours last Feb. 1. At a special board meeting last Jan. 28, BOE unanimously voted to restore the work hours of PSS employees, teachers and staff who were making 64 hours.
At that time, it was learned that only 108 PSS employees were earning 80 hours, all of them critical employees who needed to work to make sure that PSS employees get paid. These included staff at the Human Resource Department, Finance Procurement Office, and Networking Technology.
PSS has a total of 713 employees. Once all PSS employees went back to 80 hours, their total annual personnel cost went from $30,492,945 to $34,763,493.
According to Orsini, the proposed $54 million budget that PSS submitted to the Legislature will fund the salaries of locally funded staff but, with the infusion of federal money, it will add a balance to “make it normal in PSS’ operation.”
In a previous interview with Orsini, he said the federal monies they have received– $161 million, on top of the $60 million they received in 2020–will carry them for the next three years. Orsini estimated that $60 million will be used each year for a total of three years.