NMTI seeks funds to reopen in August

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THE Northern Marianas Technical Institute is seeking funds from the CNMI government so the trade school can end the furlough of its 23 employees and reopen in August.

NMTI Chief Executive Officer Agnes M. McPhetres said the trade school needs at least $1.3 million a year. “Honestly, it is the lowest amount of money for a trade school in the whole nation because we try to use our money very wisely,” she added.

She said she has asked Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig to remit funds to NMTI.

“If he could get us some money, we would like our instructors to come back on Aug. 1 so that we can prepare for the reopening of the school,” McPhetres said.

With the approval of its board of trustees, NMTI furloughed 18 of its employees on April 19 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, McPhetres said they actually furloughed 23 of its 28 employees.

She said  because NMTI is a government entity, the central government has an obligation to fund it.

“That is why the board pushed to make NMTI a public institution so there will be stability in terms of money. As a public institution, the administration and the Legislature have the obligation to give NMTI money before they give it to a private institution,” she added.

McPhetres said NMTI is also entitled to receive funds from CW fees. The trade school, she added, was supposed to receive $2.4 million in CW funds in fiscal year 2020 and a similar amount in FY 2021.

As of June, she said the NMTI had received $450,000 only.

Safety measures

McPhetres also wants to meet with the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force and Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. officials to ask for guidance in reopening NMTI.

One of the safety measures that NMTI plans to implement is to require its employees and students to take a Covid-19 test before going back to school.

NMTI plans to conduct in-person classes, McPhetres said, adding that trade school courses require in-person and hands-on learning.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, an NMTI class had five to 15 students.

“When we reopen, we will try to limit the class to not more than 10 students,” she said, adding that NMTI will also request face masks and hand sanitizer from the task force or CHCC.

NMTI usually holds its annual graduation in September, but  McPhetres said they are still reviewing if the students have met all the requirements.

If there will be a graduation ceremony this year, she said only a few students can participate because of the “gap” caused by the Covid-19 lockdown and other restrictions.

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