Sablan assures employees: No salary cuts to be enforced

Even as she expects a tight budget year for the Public School System, Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan nonetheless assured PSS employees that no salary cuts will take effect next school year.

Instead, Sablan said that PSS will look into other ways on how it can save on operations by continuing to practice the belt-tightening measures that schools started last year.

Among these is the energy conservation effort, which has proven effective in lowering the cost of school utilities.

The system’s aggressive efforts to explore new federal grants will also continue, according to the education chief.

The Board of Education submitted a $36-million budget request for the next fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1, 2012. This was reduced by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial to $30 million in his budget submission to the Legislature. The House of Representatives, which just passed the budget bill, further slashed PSS’ funding to $29.5 million: $28.5 million from appropriation; $500,000 from the Commonwealth Worker’s Fee; and $375,000 from Compact impact funds.

Sablan told Saipan Tribune Wednesday that she prefers the governor’s submission of $30 million, although it’s still lower than what PSS originally asked for.

She could not immediately say if PSS will be able to hire additional teachers and staff for the coming school year, with a lower budget and pending consultation with principals and administrators.

Sablan said that PSS has a little over 900 employees, of which over 400 are classroom teachers and school staff. Federally funded employees are about 300.

“We will go back to our staffing pattern to make sure that priorities are given to the classrooms. We may have to do some restructuring how to implement our schedules but it is still up for discussion with the staff,” she said.

Sablan also discounted the possibility of merging small schools this year, saying this was never taken into consideration by PSS.

The Education Board’s fiscal and personnel affairs committee chair, Tanya King, told Saipan Tribune on Tuesday that PSS and the board will continue to pursue negotiations with the Fitial administration on funds that still need to be remitted to public schools. She disclosed that once negotiations are finalized, a memorandum of agreement will be signed by both parties. As for the potential teacher shortage next school year, King said that PSS may use modern technology to fill the gap.

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.