PSS to remove 3 associate commissioner positions, furlough 25 more employees

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THE Board of Education on Thursday approved a new organizational chart for the Public School System that will remove three associate commissioner positions.

During the BOE meeting, PSS also said that it will furlough 25 additional employees starting June 15.

The new PSS organizational chart, which will take effect on July 6, was approved by all BOE members: Chairwoman Janice Tenorio, vice chairman Herman Atalig, MaryLou Ada, Phillip Mendiola-Long and Andrew Orsini.

The goal is to reduce cost by $1.3 million, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said.

Currently, PSS has four associate commissioners: Charley Kenty, Dr. Yvonne Pangelinan, Lynette Villagomez and Jackie Quitugua.

Under the new organizational chart, the lone associate commissioner will oversee support services, including:

  • Student Support Services, which will be headed by now senior director Dr. Yvonne Pangelinan;
  • Accountability, Research and Evaluation/Performance under senior director Lynette Villagomez; and,
  • Curriculum and Instruction/Learning under Jackie Quitugua.

Interim finance director Kimo Rosario, for his part, will be the lone associate commissioner who will also oversee PSS finances.

It was not mentioned if Kenty will fill a new position.

During the board meeting on Thursday, the commissioner urged the BOE to maintain the current PSS structure to prevent disruption of the educational process. “We are in a state of pandemic. Our focus should be preparing for the new school year and student learning,” he said.

He added that PSS is aware of the economic downturn of the island and a further decrease in projected government revenue. “PSS will make the necessary salary adjustments to operate with minimal disruptions,” he said as he asked the board to avoid reassignments and demotions.

“PSS has invested a lot of time and money producing highly effective, seasoned, and passionate leaders. The issue at hand is funding and not an organizational problem,” he said.

The board then went into executive or closed-door session.

When the public meeting resumed at 1:30 p.m., the board voted for the adoption of the new PSS organizational chart and scheduled another meeting for June 30 to discuss “compensation adjustments” of PSS managers, school administrators, teachers and other personnel.

Furloughs

During the BOE meeting, PSS human resources director Lucretia Borja said the school system will furlough 25 more employees on June 15, 2020.

On April 15, 707 locally funded PSS employees were furloughed due to lack of funds.

Borja said the 25 who will be furloughed on June 15 are school support staff members who helped prepare the learning packets for students, among other things.

Initially, she said, PSS was supposed to furlough 44 employees, but decided not to include principals and vice principals.

Atalig questioned the decision not to furlough the principals and the vice principals. “What are they going to do? What is their function and their responsibility when there are no students and classes?”

Commissioner Ada said schools must remain open to serve families that need to get certain documents.

“There are also infrastructure changes that need to take place throughout the summer,” he added.

Also not included in the phase 2 furloughs are personnel with facilities and development management, and network and technology.

“They will work with the principals and vice principals at school sites to upgrade our technology and infrastructure,” Commissioner Ada said.

He also said PSS is preparing for the “new normal” and they need to assure the parents that their children will be taken care of. “There will be a lot of changes and the [principals and vice principals’] help is needed to prepare for the reopening of the schools.”

Orsini said overseeing the maintenance of schools does not need the presence of both principals and vice principals.

“I think it will suffice to just have the principal there. In reality, we are trying to cut down costs and it just doesn’t make sense to have both principals and vice principals at the schools.”

BOE member Ada agreed, noting that principals are paid over $90,000. She said administrative staff members can oversee the schools during summer.

Mendiola-Long said allowing personnel to work during the summer means additional costs.

PSS has received a $23.1 million Education Stabilization Fund from the federal government through the CARES Act.

“We are depending on those funds to operate next year,” he said. “The further we go with spending that stabilization fund during this fiscal year, the less funds we will have for the next fiscal year.”

 

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