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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 28, 2000 - Saipan Tribune)---The Public School System (PSS) currently spends less than $4,000 to send one child to school, Education Commissioner Rita H. Inos recently disclosed, noting a decline in the education cost per student in the last three years.

According to Dr. Inos, this has been due to certain adjustments PSS has had to contend with based on the availability of funds.

In School Year 1996-97, PSS spent $4,629 for each student, with over 9,954 students to subsidize. The following school year, PSS student enrollment totaled 9, 246, with the average cost per child lowered to $4,500.

With a total student enrollment of 9,496 during the 1998-99 school year, the average spending per student further dipped to $3,997.

Dr. Inos said the current cost per student under the PSS continuing resolution is yet to be determined, but a preliminary estimate by education officials places it at $4,000.

She also stressed that education needs in 1997 are not the same as it is today.

"Individual students have different needs," she said.

One cannot put an absolute price on the cost of education per student, she said, as each student has unique needs.

Rep. Tom Pangelinan, a member of the House Committee on Education, said it is about time the CNMI goes beyond funding its education programs based on the availability of funds.

"It's time we fund them in terms of needs. After all, education is a long term investment," said Mr. Pangelinan.

Rep. Rosiky F. Camacho also said if the government were to fund the school system in terms of cost per student, it would take more than a 10 percent increase in its current 15 percent fiscal year budget.

Mr. Rosiky was referring to the House's proposed legislative initiative to increase PSS's yearly percentage allotment to 25 percent.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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