The Public School System, backed by three of five Board of Education members, have asked the Marianas Public Land Trust for a $5-million loan.
In a letter to MPLT, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada asked MPLT to lend PSS $5 million for a term of 90 days.
In a special board meeting two weeks ago, BOE members Phillip Mendiola-Long, Andrew Orsini, and Marylou Ada voted to send a letter in support of PSS’ request.
In Ada’s letter to MPLT chair Martin B. Ada dated March 27, he said that the impact of COVID-19 has crippled PSS from performing its duties. “PSS has been beset with financial difficulties in the past but the impact from the threat of COVID-19 to our school district has been immediate and outright. It crippled and immediately prevented PSS to perform and render services and programs to all of our stakeholders on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota,” he said.
Ada said in his letter that BOE and PSS are willing to execute a memorandum of agreement with MPLT to ensure that PSS meets all of the terms of its 90-day loan proposal.
“With MPLT’s immediate granting of approval to this proposal, it will ensure and guarantee that PSS is able to move forward and re-start programs and services during this particularly challenging and difficult period,” Ada stated.
According to Ada’s letter, PSS’ loan will be “guaranteed” by the $10 million it expects to receive through the federal Education Stabilization Fund under the COVID-19 economic stimulus aid.
Ada attached to his communication with MPLT the letters from the offices of Delegate Gregorio Kilili Ca. Sablan and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres informing PSS that it is one of the recipients of direct funding assistance from the $2 trillion CARES Act.
PSS is guaranteed over $10 million in financial aid under the federal law, but Ada said the process will take some time. “This is owing to the lengthy process and procedures of fund distribution, awards, and disbursements, among others,” he said.
PSS classes have been suspended for the remainder of school year 2019-2020, affecting over 10,000 public elementary, middle, and high school students at all of 20 campuses, including 10 Head Start and Early Head Start centers, and Early Intervention and Special Education programs.