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BOE member: Lifting austerity measure is not a priority

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BOARD of Education member MaryLou S. Ada said lifting the austerity measure implemented by the Public School System is not a priority yet.

“We need to prioritize and not everything can be done at the same time,” Ada added.

She said it is still “not possible” to lift the austerity measure, adding that “first, we need to do what we can do to open the schools.”

She said the other main concern of the board is “to give teachers a raise based on the certification that they worked so hard [to obtain].”

After the CNMI Supreme Court issued its answers to the certified questions regarding the PSS budget, some education officials recommended that they “revisit” past PSS budgets.

But Ada said the board should “move forward and not backwards — there’s nothing that we can do backwards because it is just going to create a lot of confusion, a lot of back-and-forth interpretations.”

Right now, she said, the priority is to get the $3 million allotment for school bus fuel, health insurance for the teachers, books, and other urgently needed items.

She added that BOE and PSS are also mindful of teachers who have worked hard to get their certification, master’s degree or PhD, but whose salaries have been “frozen” for years.

However, she reiterated that the BOE and PSS “are looking at every step and prioritize what we need. We are not going to lift the austerity. We are still swimming and trying to hold our head above water.”

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