Education commissioner suffers heart attack; PSS paychecks ‘delayed’

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BOARD of Education Chairwoman Janice Tenorio on Friday morning asked the community to pray for Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada’s fast recovery from a heart attack. In light of the delay in the release of their paychecks, she is also asking Public School System personnel to be patient.

Alfred Ada

In a phone interview, Tenorio said Ada suffered a heart attack on Thursday evening and was admitted to the Commonwealth Health Center. “The commissioner is now in stable condition, but I am asking everyone to pray for his recovery,” she added.

She said Ada has not filed the injunction against the central government that was authorized by three of the five elected members of the BOE.

“As he expressed in the recent board meeting, the commissioner does not agree with the filing of an injunction, but it doesn’t mean that he is not going to file it. He is, however, asking for ample time to do so.”

To accommodate his request, Tenorio said she will call for an emergency BOE meeting so that its members can vote on whether to give Ada the time that he needs.

“The board action [on Wednesday evening] directed the commissioner to file the injunction ‘immediately.’ But how can you file an eight-page lawsuit when you have not even seen it? This is the first time that he has seen it, and he needs to read it first,” Tenorio added.

As for the PSS personnel’s paycheck, she said: “I’m asking the entire PSS family to be patient. Today, Friday, is their payday. They have until the end of the working day to wait for their paychecks. Their salaries depend on the funds that are being transferred to PSS. We mentioned before that when the secretary of Finance transfers monies to PSS, he may be shortchanging other departments. There is no money at the bottom of the pot that he is scrapping. He is negotiating with other departments to consider giving PSS the money so that [teachers] can get paid today. That is how it works right now.”

But Tenorio also noted that the central government intends to give PSS its funding allotments on time.

The PSS payroll amounts to $1.3 million biweekly.

PSS acting finance director Kimo Rosario has said that if PSS does not reduce its expenditures, it would end up with a $4.5 million deficit. In other words, Commissioner Ada told the board, payless paydays.

On Wednesday evening, the three BOE members who voted to authorize the education commissioner to file an injunction also rejected the PSS management’s proposal to impose a 20% pay cut on its over 1,000 employees. These board members are MaryLou Ada, Phillip Mendiola-Long and Andrew Orsini. BOE Chairwoman Janice Tenorio and vice chairman Herman Atalig voted against the filing of the injunction, and in favor of the austerity measure which is part of the across-the-board budget cuts implemented by the central government amid a steep decline in tourist arrivals and a slowdown in economy activity.

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