The Public School System has submitted a budget proposal of $54 million for fiscal year 2022, according to Board of Education chair Andrew L. Orsini.
In a telephone interview with Orsini, he said that PSS submitted its budget last March 26, well before the due date last April 1. This budget, Orsini said, will be “enough to carry” them through fiscal year 2022, which is from October 2021 through September 2022.
PSS previously projected to operate on a $58-million budget for the next fiscal year.
The $54 million that PSS is proposing will be able to retain PSS’ existing personnel and bring in more qualified personnel that are needed. PSS expects to spend $41 million on salaries and benefits, which is 71% of the money it is asking for.
PSS will also look into hiring teacher aides to replace the shortfall of aides. Orsini said PSS lost 34 highly qualified teachers during the pandemic.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said PSS is budgeting for 772 locally funded employees and 229 federally funded employees.
With the $515 million that the CNMI will be receiving from the federal government, Orsini said he believes that PSS will get what they proposed. Recently, PSS received $161 million, on top of the $60 million they received in 2020, which Orsini said will carry them for the next three years. Orsini estimated that $60 million will be used each year for a total of three years.
With the federal monies, Orsini said PSS will be able to fix typhoon-damaged schools on Rota and Tinian.
“Now because we have this infusion of funds that are coming our way, this will address those needs that have been kept [on standby] for quite a while even before the pandemic,” said Orsini.
He said with the federal monies have been a big help to balance out the shortage of local funds that PSS has been anticipating.
“We’re pretty blessed, with this in line. [The] federal monies…[have] really been a big help to balance the shortage of local funds that we’ve been anticipating. I think that, as far as looking at this year [and] the next two years, I think we’re going to be in pretty good shape,” said Orsini.