The Public School System would prefer to manage any funds set aside for the over $11 million worth of deferred maintenance in their schools, according to Board of Education chair Herman Guerrero.
Guerrero said it would be “easier” for the PSS Capital Improvement Projects office to manage these funds rather than the executive CIP office.
“We have our procurement requirements so we don’t have to worry about going through the CNMI Procurement [and Supply] requirements and [the Department of] Public Works. I think it would have been easier for us if could handle it, put up the bid, and let our staff do all the work. But we’ll see what the governor has to say,” Guerrero said.
The CNMI has planned to set aside as much as $1.26 million for fiscal year 2015 and $1 million for fiscal year 2016 that would be used to repair public school buildings, according to the CNMI’s CIP grant proposals to the Office of Insular Affairs.
In a July 2 letter to the governor this year, the board and PSS requested a “pass-through grant” of the $1 million in funds earmarked by OIA.
In a response later that month, Gov. Eloy S. Inos said the executive CIP office would handle the administering of the funds. The office would work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and PSS staff, the letter said.
“The funds will be available to implement the projects listed…and will not be treated as a pass-through grant,” the letter states.
In October the board and PSS requested a meeting with the governor to discuss the funding status of the OIA money. They also asked for the meeting to “finalize the arrangements for the PSS management of [the OIA] grant.”
OIA released in 2013 an assessment of buildings and classrooms that totaled over $11 million worth of deferred maintenance for PSS. Over $1 million of that was listed as urgent “health and safety” priorities.
OIA directed insular governors to set aside no less than $1 million annually for the next five years starting in 2015 for these improvements.
The board adopted earlier this year to use the first $1 million in funds to address “electrical” deferred maintenance.
Electrical systems for the decades-old public schools are “not to code,” as reported by the PSS CIP office earlier this year.