The Public School System is working on disbursing this week the remaining balance of incentive checks under the Project Restart Retention Incentive program for school-based personnel.
In a phone interview with Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada, he said that PSS is working on issuing the $1,000 incentive checks to PSS instructors this week, even though it is originally supposed to be given out at the end of the school year.
“Project Restart is only for school-based personnel. They all will get $1,000, but they were not supposed to get it until the end of the school year but we were able to get permission to give it out early, considering the COVID-19 situation,” he said.
Ada said PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh reached out the U.S. Department of Education to release the over $1.3 million balance early because PSS wanted to lift the teacher’s spirits in some way during these hard times.
Ada said he wanted to release the incentive checks early because teachers were not paid their entire salary last pay period, with locally funded staff only receiving 70% of their salaries.
Thornburgh said during a special board meeting last Saturday that the schedule of the release of the incentive checks is at the discretion of the education commissioner.
“This is a situation where, if we really want to, we could do it, because it is an incentive to keep our teachers. …We can do the drawdown [this week],” he said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, all teachers, teacher aids, school administrators, substitute teachers, librarians, and other qualified school-based personnel were given $1,000 each back in December as incentive pay under the Project Restart’s Retention Incentive program.
The grant is intended to retain school-based personnel and motivate them to stay for the entire school year. Each individual who qualifies gets $2,000. The first payment was back in December and the second payment of $1,000 was initially supposed to be disbursed at the end of the school year in June.
Thornburgh discovered the Retention Incentive Program under Project Restart, a federal program that awards grants that can be used for school operations, recruitment of teachers, renewal of teachers, rewards, and performance incentives for teachers.