Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 22 Feb 2019 12am

Headlines:

     

     

     

     

     

    Thursday, February 21, 2019-10:26:20A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Font Size

Settings

NMC seeks $7.9M budget in FY 2015

THE Northern Marianas College board of regents yesterday endorsed the proposed $7.9 million budget request for fiscal year 2015.

Northern Marianas College regents Elizabeth Rechebei and William Torres discuss the proposed budget during a break in a special board  meeting yesterday.  Photo by Junhan B. TodinoNorthern Marianas College regents Elizabeth Rechebei and William Torres discuss the proposed budget during a break in a special board meeting yesterday. Photo by Junhan B. Todino
Of this amount, $7,108,224 is for personnel cost and $750,035 for “all others,” which includes utility costs of $671,000.

NMC’s current budget is $6.3 million.

Of the proposed increase, $686,000 is for salary adjustments and $200,000 for faculty ranking adjustments.

In an interview, NMC President Sharon Hart said they want to raise the salary of “all employees” so that pay levels will reach 85 percent of the average salaries at “peer institutions.”

Hart said one of the reasons the college was placed on show-cause status by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges was because of NMC’s failure to maintain its “administrative capacity.”

“We are becoming a revolving door — people coming in, people going out,” she said, adding that some employees have been at NMC for over seven years without receiving a salary increase or incentives.

She didn’t say how the CNMI government, whose many other obligations amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, can afford to pay NMC’s proposed salary hikes.

Hart said the college will soon develop a faculty-ranking system.

“Our faculty is such a critical element in the institution,” she said, adding that a ranking system will bring fairness to faculty positions.

The college, Hart said, has to focus on sustainability and intends to be more competitive.

Hart said she is “optimistic” that the legislative and executive branches will consider the college’s proposed budget, given NMC’s role as the CNMI’s “engine of economic growth.”

She said they will ensure that the college continues to play a central role in re-building the local economy by providing an affordable, high-quality education to residents.

“A strong link exists between how much is invested in education and the health of the local economy,” Hart added.

“An educated workforce in the CNMI will…help [boost the] private sector,” she said.. “Right now, we only have one dominant private sector industry — hospitality.”

She said NMC has adopted a “very aggressive strategic plan that places heavy emphasis on meeting workforce needs and in ensuring that the college’s performance in key areas like job placement compare favorably to national benchmarks.”

She noted, however, that despite the college’s key role in training and educating the CNMI workforce, its share of the government budget has continued to decline.

Other key agencies or services — the Public School System, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the Department of Public Safety — have also seen their budgets decline as a result of the islands’ 16-year economic downturn.