The budget hearing for the Public School System’s fiscal year 2015-2016 spending plan is set for May 27, according to Education Commissioner Dr. Rita Sablan.
The legislative hearing is where they present and “justify” their budget, according to the commissioner.
She told Saipan Tribune she would be working on this presentation this week.
Some areas of funding include the need to replace teachers who are leaving or retiring, she said.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos allocated $36.45 million for PSS in his budget proposal, which now sits with the Legislature. This is equivalent to 25 percent of total general fund resources guaranteed to PSS in the wake of the passage of House Legislative Initiative 18-12.
PSS had asked for $42 million.
In fiscal year 2014-2015, PSS got $34.33 million.
In their budget submission for fiscal 2016, PSS requested $31.478 million for personnel, $3.94 million for “all others,” $260,000 for two new buses; deferred maintenance costs of $1 million, outstanding utility debt at $3.7 million, $700,000 for classroom materials and instruction, $400,000 in debt service to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as $420,000 for the Office of the Public Auditor.
Meanwhile, PSS has yet to hear from the Office of the Attorney General on a letter they sent asking for legal interpretation on sections of the CNMI Constitution regarding revenue sources set aside for public schools.
As of last week, they are still waiting for a reply or acknowledgement of the letter, according to Sablan.
Essentially, PSS and the Board of Education are asking if the budget they receive should be taken from the government’s total revenue resources, or from the net amount like it is done now.
BOE chair Herman Guerrero earlier explained that the governor identified some $180 million in total resources. “By the time they start deducting for commitments, you are saddled with $140 million for appropriations,” he said. “So we are asking if it is the net [amount] or the total amount [that PSS’ budget should be taken from]?
The question is, what is the intent of the Constitution,” he had said.