Waiting game continues for PSS
The CNMI Public School System has not received allocation yet from the CARES Act and is still playing the waiting game while also looking for other sources of funding since they have been allocated close to nothing since the government shutdown back in March.
According to PSS Federal Programs officer Tim Thornburgh, PSS has received no allocation from the CARES Act as of last weekend, and no notice of when they will receive the funds.
PSS is dependent on the CARES Act funding to pay teachers their missed payrolls, PSS vendors, and PSS operations.
Thornburgh said he has already written to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), who chairs the U.S. Department of Labor Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittee, in regards to the funding.
“We have not yet received our allocation. I sent a long email to our congressman [with] suggestions on how to move things along and I’m hopeful he will be able to get to the department. They’ve made all the allocations except for the insular areas, there’s no excuse for them to dilly-dally any longer and I suggested to him that if we don’t get an immediate response, as the chair of the subcommittee of elementary and secondary education, he can always call for an oversight meeting,” Thornburgh said.
PSS has yet to receive a response from Sablan.
The Public School System, backed by all five Board of Education members, have started the process of applying for a $5 million loan with the Marianas Public Land Trust.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada has already written to MPLT to ask it to lend PSS $5 million for a term of 90 days. In Ada’s letter to MPLT chair Martin B. Ada dated March 27, he said that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled PSS from performing its duties. 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.
According to Ada’s letter, PSS’ loan will be “guaranteed” by the over $12 million it expects to receive through the federal Education Stabilization Fund under the COVID-19 economic stimulus aid.