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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-12:46:55A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Official: PSS ‘out of the red,’ but money still tight

THE Public School System is no longer operating in the red, but money is still tight, PSS acting finance director Kimo Rosario told the Board of Education on Thursday.

The fiscal year 2020 budget law appropriated $37,718,904 for PSS, which will be augmented by a supplemental funding of $745,000 under Saipan Local Law 21-10 and $2 million under P.L. 21-10 for a total appropriation of $41.4 million.

The projected expenses of the school system in FY 2020 amount to $40.1 million, Rosario said.

Every pay period, he added, PSS needs $1.3 million for payroll and about $111,000 for operations for a monthly total of $2.82 million.

In October, Rosario said PSS received its full monthly allocation from the central government.

“When PSS said our finances are improving, we mean we are no longer operating in the red,” he reiterated.

He said PSS must continue spending “what we receive and not spend based on what we expect to receive because it is really tight.”

Rosario said the PSS finance team has visited schools to address the concerns raised by many of them.

“The biggest concern is whether there will be further pay cuts. [I said] there won’t be pay cuts if we control our spending,” he added.

The Board of Education meets with Public School System officials on Thursday.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. LirioThe Board of Education meets with Public School System officials on Thursday. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

Rosario said PSS is closely monitoring expenditures every month for every school and program — how much was spent and the amount of funding left.

“We also called out those that are overspending. We explained to them that when you overspend, you are ‘robbing’ from the other programs because we need to use whatever funds that were not spent to cover other expenditures.”

In FY 2019, Rosario said PSS did not overspend.

Last year, the government approved a $42.9 million budget for PSS, but the amount was reduced to $36.3 million because of a revenue shortfall following the devastation of Typhoon Yutu.

With the inclusion of other funds appropriated for PSS, Rosario said the school system received a total of $45 million in the previous fiscal year.

Of this amount, PSS spent $44,687,931, he added. “Clearly, we did not overspend.”

But two weeks before the end of FY 2019, he said PSS was facing an $8.3 million deficit.

“There was a deficit prior to the budget cuts. We were incurring expenses especially after Typhoon Yutu,” Rosario said.

“But the deficit went down to $7.7 million as of Sept. 29 because the government transferred funds,” he added.

There were additional fund transfers amounting to $8 million from Sept. 22 to Oct. 17, “so we ended the fiscal year in the black with $300,000 left to spend,” Rosario said.