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NMTI official concerned about proposal to transfer administration of CW money

THE Northern Marianas Trades Institutes is concerned about the governor’s proposal to transfer the administration of CW money from the Department of Labor to the CNMI Scholarship Office, saying it may prevent local vocational/trades entities from expanding their programs to meet manpower workforce training demands.

In a letter to Senate President Arnold Palacios dated July 10, NMTI chief executive officer Agnes McPhetres said the aim may be to give students increased financial resources to further their vocational and trades education.

Agnes McPhetresAgnes McPhetres

But, she added, changing the process from providing funds to educational entities to directing the funds to the students in the form of financial assistance may contradict the intent of Public Law 110-229 Section 702 (6).

This provision states that: “such supplemental fee shall be paid for the purpose of funding ongoing vocational educational curricula and program development by commonwealth educational entities.”

Currently, McPhetres said, there are no established procedures on how payment disbursements are to be made by the CNMI Scholarship Office, “leaving NMTI totally uninformed about the timeliness of such disbursements.”

She said this will jeopardize NMTI’s ability to offer classes in a well-planned and scheduled manner.

“Unlike [the Public School System] and [Northern Marianas College], which are financially backed by the central government, NMTI is a fairly new endeavor in the CNMI. It is not supported by consistent annual appropriations. By not being able to depend on an approved level of funding prior to the offering of classes, NMTI cannot plan with regard to hiring qualified instructors and/or staff for the program implementation,” McPhetres said.

“Because NMC students receive not only local financial assistance, but also receive federal financial aid such as Pell Grants, NMC can create a contingency plan which in effect, provides for a cushion during the implementation of this new strategy. Had the proposal given NMTI at least one fiscal year to transition, we could have created other strategies to alleviate some of the potentially adverse effects. Without such contingency planning, this new approach regarding use of CW funds may cause NMTI to close down, thus leaving vocational and trades education in limbo once again.”