Marianas Variety

Friday, August 1, 2014-5:48:46A.M.

Last updateFri, 01 Aug 2014 12am

Headlines:

Scholarship board members told to resign

AN hour after signing a Senate bill that scrapped “restrictive” scholarship rules on Friday, acting Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider asked the Saipan members of the CNMI Scholarship Advisory board to submit their courtesy resignations.

Variety learned that on the same day, Carol Peter-Hosono, the advisory board’s vice chairwoman, submitted her courtesy resignation. Board member Chris Concepcion submitted his courtesy resignation upon hearing that the acting governor had signed Senate Bill 18-24 which repealed the rules requiring scholarship applicants to enroll at Northern Marianas College.

Acting Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider signs into law Senate Bill 18-24, which repeals certain scholarship regulations, as Sens. Pete P. Reyes and Frank Q. Cruz, look on.  Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

S.B. 18-24 is now Public Law 18-6.

The advisory board chairman Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong and board member Jackie Che had yet to respond to this reporter’s email inquiry. Variety was told that they were waiting for Gov. Eloy S. Inos’s return so they can air their concerns.

Board members are not compensated.

Hofschneider’s chief-of-staff, Anthony Aguon, on Friday emailed the Saipan board members to tell them that “the acting governor is not pleased with the direction that the scholarship advisory board has steered the government program and has asked me to send you all requests for courtesy resignations.”

Aguon added, “I should have letters from everyone signed before the end of the day.”

Aguon was also a member of the scholarship advisory board but he resigned on the day the House passed S.B. 18-24.

Hofschneider on Friday called for a press conference and invited lawmakers to witness the signing of S.B. 18-24 and two other bills — S.B. 18-1 which renames the Tinian Department of Public Safety Building after Gilbert Taisacan Manglona, a Tinian police officer who was shot and killed in 1995 by an off-duty officer arrested earlier for assault and battery; and S.B. 18-2 which allows U.S. military personnel to renew their vehicle registrations here.

When asked how he would respond to the concerns of the scholarship board and NMC about the CNMI’s dwindling financial resources, Hofschneider said: “it’s something that the administration and the Legislature can work on to ensure that at a minimum it is funded and that the curriculum and operations of NMC remain intact.”

He said he was in the Senate when he heard about the scholarship advisory board’s adoption of the new rule that restricted grants to NMC students.

“I had some reservations about that and I was one of the members of the Legislature who objected to it. We should not restrict high school graduates [from going to other colleges]. We support NMC but we should find other means to fund it,” Hofschneider said.

Sen. Pete P. Reyes, R-Saipan and the author of S.B. 18-24, said he still encourages high school students to enroll at NMC which, he added, is an “excellent institution.”

But he said NMC should improve its marketing efforts instead of taking scholarship funds from students.

In a statement, Hofschneider said: “The administration believes it must do all it can to expand — not restrict — opportunities for our high school graduates and new college students to pursue a post-secondary education.”

He added, Senate Bill 18-24 “will allow qualified students to take advantage of the CNMI’s Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education membership which provides the opportunity to attend a number of colleges across 15 Western States at greatly reduced rates,” he added.

He said “with the passing of this Senate bill and the recent end of the CNMI’s honors scholarships, now is in fact the perfect time to revisit our government’s post-secondary education assistance . . . program to better assist our citizens pursuing postsecondary education.”

He said the administration “is prepared to work with the Legislature on additional legislation to further clarify and ensure fair policies governing the scholarship program.”    

Asked how he felt signing three bills into law, Hofschneider said: “It was just an ordinary day for me as acting governor. I think it’s a privilege that I am able to dispose of very crucial pieces of legislation. It feels good and I am glad I am able to make a difference in the community.”