CNMI Public School Budget Woes Leads To Teacher Shortages

School system seeks $2.3 million more than governor proposed

By Jon Perez

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, August 26, 2016) – CNMI State Public School System acting commissioner Yvonne R. Pangelinan said they are hoping that the Legislature would give them a bigger budget so they could address issues like a shortage of teachers for School Year 2016-2017.

PSS, in last Wednesday’s Senate Fiscal Affairs committee budget hearing, is asking the Legislature that it be allocated close to $40 million after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres proposed a lower budget of $37.7 million.

“We hope the budget would be favorable to us so we could shift our resources to provide more support to our schools,” said Pangelinan in her report in yesterday’s CNMI State Board of Education special board meeting at the Office of Public Transport conference room in lower base.

The lack of teaching staff and the ongoing minor repair of facilities in all schools are PSS’ main concern right now especially since it has been two weeks that school year 2016-2017 started.

Some classes at Marianas High School had to trim down the number of students since classrooms were already full. Students in those classes have yet to have their new teacher.

“We need to give our schools more support so that they have the adequate staffing. We have 14 percent of our schools which have full staff in place and there is still a shortage of 86 percent in our schools,” Pangelinan said in her report.

MHS has the largest student population with 1,600 in last week’s opening and rose to 1,710 as of Wednesday. Among the elementary schools, Koblerville Elementary School had the biggest number with 600.

Pangelinan said that she is working with associate commissioner for administrative services Glenn Muna and Human Resources Office of director Cindy Deleon Guerrero to address the issues on the lack of staff.

“The instructional materials for reading and Math are now here and we are working to deliver it to schools. We are also working with [the Department of] Finance on what needs to be done to fund the facilities that need repair,” said Pangelinan.

She added that the shortage of classrooms at MHS will soon be over as they had already moved out of the central office and the rooms there are now being repaired. “There will be an additional 12 classrooms that they will be able to utilize [them] after the repairs.”

Pangelinan said most of MHS’ students come from within their zone and only a small population from the other areas. Freshmen are from the feeder schools, middle schools. “I don’t have the exact number of what grade level that has the highest increase but most of the students at MHS are within their zone.”

Aside from those problems and the threat of a possible storm last week, Pangelinan said that the school opening went rather smoothly. “We had a little bit of rough weather at the beginning of the school year but the general consensus is we had a smooth opening. I was at MHS on opening day and sure there were some problems in registration and scheduling but the administrators and department heads addressed them within the day.

Saipan Tribune
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