09 Jan 2019
- By Lori Lyn C. Lirio – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
OUTGOING Board of Education member Herman T. Guerrero reminded Public School System officials to be diligent in their effort to collect the $7.5 million that he said the CNMI government owes PSS.
â€œWe need to remind the governor regarding the $7.5 million. We need to get the administrationâ€™s attention and the Legislature as well. Let us pursue it. They need to understand that they still owe PSS money. If they look away and pretend that it is already paid when it is not, then PSS will suffer,â€� he said during the BOE committee on fiscal, personnel and administration meeting at the BOE building on Capital Hill, Tuesday morning.
The CNMI Constitution states that â€œthe public elementary and secondary education system shall be guaranteed an annual budget of not less than 25 percent of the general revenues of the Commonwealth through an annual appropriation.â€�
But BOE/PSS and the administration disagree on what constitutes 25 percent of the governmentâ€™s annual budget. In Aug. 2018, PSS withdrew its lawsuit against the CNMI government after the school system and the administration agreed to submit a certified question to the CNMI Supreme Court.
Guerreroâ€™s term as BOE member ends this week. He will be succeeded by Andrew Orsini who was elected in November.
After the BOE committee meeting, the Senate adopted a resolution commending Guerrero for his years of service in public education.
Guerrero was first elected to the BOE in 2001, and was re-elected in 2005, 2009 and 2014.
In the Senate chamber, Guerrero reminded senators about the $7.5 million that he said the government owes PSS.
He also extended his appreciation â€œfor the work of the Senate and the House of Representatives over the years.â€�
He said sometimes, he â€œdoesnâ€™t see eye to eyeâ€� with legislators regarding PSS funding issues, â€œbut despite our differences, you have helped PSS to be where it is now.â€�
He added that during the 17 years he has served on the BOE, he has seen improvements to the local education system.
â€œWe can say that our PSS is better than Guamâ€™s, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and perhaps even some districts in the states,â€� he told the senators.
â€œWhen I attended national conferences, there were issues that they were bringing out that we had already dealt with in the past,â€� Guerrero added.
He encouraged legislators to always support PSS. â€œThe accomplishments of PSS are also the accomplishment of the legislators as well as our other leaders.â€�
He added, â€œPlease support PSS. It is about the future of our kids. If we have well-educated students then they can take better care of their parents, grandparents, and the Commonwealth. They can make sound decisions so we donâ€™t keep falling into the same traps we have encountered in the past.â€�
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/109892-boe-member-government-still-owes-pss-7-5-million