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NMC receives 30% of FY 2020 budget

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WITH three months left in fiscal year 2020,  Northern Marianas College has received 30% only of its appropriated budget, the House  Ways and Means Committee learned in a recent budget hearing.

Public Law 21-8 appropriated $6.07 million for NMC in FY 2020. Because of the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, NMC’s budget went down to $3.1 million, a 48% decrease, the college said.

Of this amount, NMC has received $934,000.

“The other appropriation that we are anticipating in this current fiscal year is the $208,000 that the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation approved a couple of months ago,” NMC Interim President Frankie Eliptico told the lawmakers.

He said NMC has reduced the work hours of its locally funded employees to 64 from 80.

NMC was also provided $1.8 million in CARES Act funds, but half of the amount was for students whose lives and education have been disrupted by Covid-19.

Eliptico said the college  continues to implement other cost-cutting measures that include leveraging available federal sources,  and limiting  the hiring of non-federally funded positions.

For FY 2021, NMC requested  a $10.7 million budget, but the Office of Management and Budget  can only propose $2.8 million for the college. The amount does not include the CW fees provided to NMC. In this fiscal year, the college received $1 million in CW fees.

Eliptico said the college has neither cancelled any of its classes nor delayed the academic year.

“We are also looking at growing the programs despite all the challenges we are facing,” he said. “There are a number of CNMI government and private sector employees who have been furloughed in the past three months. We want to play a role in their retraining…whether it is a degree or certificate programs so that they can take on other jobs.”

Although their work hours were cut, no NMC employees have been furloughed, Eliptico said. “It is important for NMC to demonstrate financial sustainability and to be able to say that we can weather some difficulties even though this pandemic is unprecedented. We want to make sure that we are in a strong financial, academic, and structural place to demonstrate to our creditors that NMC is an institution that is stable and sustainable.”

The  proposed NMC budget for FY 2021 included $1 million for ongoing Super Typhoon Yutu recovery expenses, $600,000 for adjunct instructors, $312,000 for utilities of the Saipan, Rota, and Tinian campuses, and other expenditures for the college operations.

Eliptico said NMC is also pursuing rebuilding grants, adding that the college received confirmation of a $21.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in January.

Moreover, NMC has applied for a Community Development Block Grant under the Disaster Recovery Program as well as grants from the U.S. Economic Development Authority.

“We have funding requests and confirmations from other funding entities that allow us to rebuild and establish NMC’s footprint here in the CNMI. But these funds that we are pursuing, none of them fund the operations,” Eliptico said.

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