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Federal funds help keep PSS afloat

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THE federal government provided the Public School System with badly needed funds in fiscal year 2020, PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburg said.

During the virtual Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Thornburg reported that PSS received $23,163,734 in Education Stabilization Fund or ESF from the federal government.

Of this amount, he said $16.16 million filled the “big hole” in local funding.

Thornburgh said the ESF also paid $20,400 for WAND thermometers; $1.33 million for teacher training; $300,000 for EMTs (healthcare at schools); $350,000 for school buses; $450,000 for school sanitation (Covid-19 prevention supplies); and $37,943 for administrative cost.

Net of expenditures totaling $18,622,734, the ESF balance from FY 2020 stands at $4,541,000, which will be set aside for FY 2021, according to Thornburg.

As for  local funds, as of Sept. 28, 2020, PSS comptroller George Palican said the PSS budget of $37.7 million as originally appropriated by Public Law 21-8,  was reduced by 48.16% or $18.16 million leaving PSS with $19.55 million.

The BOE budget of $322,837 was cut to $167,347.

The budget cuts were part of the across-the-board reduction of the CNMI government spending levels following the collapse of the local economy caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

But PSS also received $745,000 from Saipan Local Law 21-10; $65,000 from the Tobacco Settlement Funds; and $204,905 from Compact-Impact funds.

Of these funds, Palican said $18.76 million was transferred to PSS, including the $523,232 that PSS received on Sept. 28, 2020.

BOE already received its $167,347.

Of the $745,000 provided in S.L.L. 21-10, PSS received $535,000. The balance of $210,000 has yet to be remitted to PSS by the central government.

Palican also said the  $65,000 from the Tobacco Settlement Funds was transferred, but PSS is still waiting for the $204,905 in Compact-Impact funds.

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