SAIPAN — Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Board of Education Chairwoman Janice Tenorio and Education Commissioner Alfred Ada have asked the Marianas Public Land Trust to lend $5 million to the Public School System for a term of 90 days.
In a letter dated March 27, Tenorio and Alfred Ada told MPLT Chairman Martin Ada that "PSS has been beset with financial difficulties in the past but the impact from the threat of COVID-19 to our school district has been immediate and outright, it crippled and immediately prevented PSS to perform and render services and programs to all of our stakeholders on Saipan, Tinian and Rota."
They said public school classes have been suspended for the remainder of school year 2019-2020, affecting more than 10,000 elementary, middle and high school students on all of 20 campuses, including 10 Head Start and Early Head Start centers, and Early Intervention and Special Education programs.
But they also said the offices of Del. Gregorio Sablan and Gov. Ralph Torres have informed PSS that it is one of the recipients of direct funding assistance from the $2 trillion CARES Act. PSS is guaranteed $10 million in financial aid under the federal law, Alfred Ada and Tenorio said, but the process will take some time.
"This is owing to the lengthy process and procedures of fund distribution, awards and disbursements, among others," they added.
They said PSS' loan will be "guaranteed" by its confirmed $10 million share from the federal Education Stabilization Fund under the COVID-19 economic aid.
Alfred Ada and Tenorio added that the BOE and PSS are willing to execute a memorandum of agreement with MPLT to ensure that PSS meets all the terms of its 90-day loan proposal.