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    Monday, August 26, 2019-8:38:23P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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BOE removes ‘threatening’ language from addendum

AT an emergency meeting on Tuesday, the Board of Education unanimously approved the removal of language in an addendum that allowed the Public School System to implement further salary cuts without notice to its employees.

The motion to remove the language in the addendum was offered by BOE member Philip Mendiola-Long.

Prior to the BOE vote, more than 30 teachers, counselors and school staff from Kagman High School, Chacha Ocean View Middle School, William S. Reyes Elementary School, Marianas High School and Hopwood Middle School urged the BOE to rescind the addendum; they believe it would allow PSS to cut their salaries further.

KHS librarian Maria Ornes said the addendum they received was very threatening and created a lot of fear among the teaching staff.

The addendum stated that if a financial emergency exists “PSS may unilaterally impose reduction in employees’ salaries at rate(s) determined by the PSS.”

“We would like you to rescind that [language],” Ornes told the BOE. “We understand the situation…. We know that you have the best interest of our students and our teachers. But this was not handled well.”

MHS teacher Jeremy Rother said the addendum created a lot of uncertainty.

Along with the addendum, the PSS also issued a memorandum giving the employees 15 days or until June 21 to sign the addendum or be “released” from employment.

BOE/PSS legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu explained to the employees that the goal of issuing the addendum was not to terminate anyone but to get everyone on board.

He said PSS is not getting a consistent amount of money from the central government.

Teachers attended the Board of Education’s emergency meeting on Tuesday.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio Teachers attended the Board of Education’s emergency meeting on Tuesday. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

“We don’t understand what kind of money [PSS] is going to get. We need the flexibility to react quickly so we could avoid a payless payday. If we can’t make adjustments here, then we are left making these cuts prospectively, which means…that [PSS] would eventually have no way to pay anyone,” he said.

He added that the board has to modify the employees’ contracts in order to keep everyone on board.

During the discussion on Mendiola-Long’s motion, BOE teacher representative Paul Miura expressed his concerns about allowing PSS to keep cutting their salary without any notification.

Mendiola-Long said there was a need to “remove the issue that is unsettling to teachers and to essentially draw the line of where to stop the pay cut.”

Education Commissioner Glenn Muna recommended replacing the language in the addendum.

“We have a version ‘A’ which states that this will be the last cut that we will be doing. But we want everyone to understand that if the money does not get transferred, then we need to start being realistic. If we don’t get the money then we won’t be able to release the payroll. We will have to shut down our schools.”

He said version “A” will not stop the delay in payroll “if the money is not coming at all.”

In an interview, BOE Chairwoman Janice Tenorio said there will be no payroll if PSS doesn’t receive its allotments from the central government.

“We will have to close the schools. Fortunately, it is summer. But the support staff will not be paid. I am still confident that the government will not allow the schools to shut down. However, we need to go back to the drawing board and adjust salaries,” she said.

At the BOE meeting on Tuesday, Mendiola-Long introduced measures that he said would alleviate the austerity impact on PSS.

One of his proposals call for the implementation of a four-day school week plan for the 2019-2020 school year.