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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 1) - The islands’ Public School System has the highest numbers of students per classroom teacher for grades K-6 in the nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education.

The study, which includes all 50 States and the five territories, covers school year 2003-2004.

It states that PSS elementary schools had a student/teacher ratio of 23.7 students for every teacher in grades K-6 for the school year ending in June 2004.

California, the nation’s most populous State, was next with 20.1 students per teacher.

The study also shows that at the high school level, the local school system’s 21.4 students per teacher was second only to California, which had 21.8 students per teacher.

Commissioner of Education Rita H. Inos says that the student to teacher ratio at public schools continues to rise because the budget for PSS has not increased in the last seven years.

She said the PSS budget is US$5 million lower than it was in 1997 and 1998.

"Yet PSS has opened six new schools and added over 2,500 more students since 1997 and now has a student enrollment of over 11,500 students," she said.

Inos said San Vicente Elementary School currently has a student-teacher ratio of 26:1, WSR, 25:1; Kagman Elementary, 26:1; Koblerville Elementary, 25:1; Dandan, 24:1; while Garapan and Oleai Elementary Schools have 22:1.

Inos said the Board of Education desired student-teacher ratio for elementary schools is 20:1, but almost all Saipan elementary schools have exceeded this because the new schools and additional classrooms needed have not been built.

Inos said she is hopeful that the Legislature will act on the school system’s seven-year capital improvement projects plan.

She said PSS has made arrangements for a federally guaranteed low interest loan to build the new schools and additional classrooms needed on Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

February 2, 2006

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