NMTI pleads for funding to pay teachers

THE Northern Marianas Trades Institute is asking for a $1 million in funding to support its operations, programs and cover the salaries of their 26 instructors.

NMTI CEO Agnes McPhetres was in the Senate chamber on Friday to ask for funding to pay the salaries of their teachers.

McPhetres said their funding, which comes from CW fees, was reduced by 50 percent because Governor Ralph Torres transferred the administration of the CW funds from the Department of Labor to the CNMI Scholarship Office.

She is asking for a little over $1 million to sustain their operations and programs.

McPhetres said they intentionally increased their classes because they want more students to engage in technical education.

“We are talking about workforce development here, so we cannot just stop our programs when we are in the middle of developing our own people to become skilled workers,” she told the nine Senators on Friday during a public comment session.

“For so many years we have neglected our students in the area of technical education. In collaboration with the Public School System, we are now working closely with our high school students to offer them more options. We are hoping to have fewer dropouts and more options for them to be employed in various job positions. This technical institution is essential as we are being pressured by the federal government to train and develop our own workers here. This is the first time that the Legislature has designated an entity that will focus on technical programs which are essential for our economic development,” she said.

In an interview, McPhetres said the enrollment in NMTI has increased from 300 last year to 599 this year, prompting them to hire more instructors.

“Had we known that the CW fees were going to be diverted to other agencies, we would not have opened more classes. We were led to believe that they were going to assist us. That’s why we opened more classes to help provide technical education to our students so they can eventually replace our current CW’s,” she said.

McPhetres said the first allotment that the Legislature gave them last year was released in the middle of the fiscal month October, but classes had already started in August.

“We got a little over $500,000 from the CW fees, so this $1 million that we are requesting is an additional amount so we can supplement the lack of funding to pay our teachers,” she said.

McPhetres said they have 13 full time instructors, as well as bus drivers transporting high school students from their respective schools to NMTI and 13 part time instructors.

Just last week, the House passed a Senate Bill that changes NMTI’s status from a private non-profit entity to a public entity which will make NMTI eligible for government funding.

The bill,Senate Bill 20-21, which establishes NMTI as a technical institute was introduced by Senator Justo Quitugua.

The measure now goes to the Governor’s desk for action.

McPhetres said if the bill is signed into law by the Governor, they will be able to receive regular funding from the government.

“S.B. 20-21 is actually a plus for the CNMI as there has never been a separate institution for trade or vocational education. The mission and the goals of the NMTI are totally different from that of an academic institution. In other words, we now have a vocational school or trade school for those of our students interested in pursuing careers as skilled workers,” McPhetres said.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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