A Saipan senator believes the Legislature should be involved in the recovery efforts of the Public School System and the Northern Marianas College, which both sustained massive damage in the wake of Super Typhoon Yutu.
Sen. Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan), who also chairs the Senate Committee on Education and Youth Affairs, believes that funding should be funneled toward the recovery efforts of both educational institutions.
“The Legislature must look into how they can assist NMC and PSS in their [recovery], particularly with their infrastructure so we can build a more permanent structure that can withstand strong storms in the future,” he said, adding that typhoon-resistant structures should be paramount.
He noted that high school and college seniors are bearing the brunt of the impact as it may affect their educational plans.
In a previous Board of Education meeting, interim Education commissioner Glenn Muña reported to the board that roughly 100 percent of Hopwood Middle School sustained damage from Super Typhoon Yutu. San Vicente Elementary School had almost half of its classrooms damaged, while extensive damage was also noted at the Francisco M. Mendiola Middle School and many others.
NMC’s gym, among several of their buildings, sustained heavy damage as its entire roof was blown away. Water damaged some of the college’s electrical systems and affected even some of their books.
In a previous interview with Saipan Tribune, NMC acting president Frankie Eliptico noted that he would be “aggressively” pushing for more typhoon-resistant structures to avoid repeats of heavy storm damage.
“A lot of the PSS structures were built right after Typhoon Jean in 1968,” said Quitugua, adding that Typhoon Jean also heavily damaged the homes and structures of NMI residents that time. “It’s time to reassess the infrastructure needs of PSS and do something to improve it,” adding that this would be one of his goals in the upcoming 21st Legislature.
Quitugua won the 2018 elections and would be representing Saipan in the 21st Senate.
He noted that he would also be following up on the master plans for NMC’s infrastructure improvements, which he discussed with former NMC president Dr. Carmen Fernandez during his time at the House of Representatives and again during Fernandez’s second term as NMC president.
“I am really interested [in NMC infrastructure improvements] to convince our students into staying here and attending NMC,” he said.