CNMI cuts public school employee salaries; adopts 4-day work week


CNMI’s public school board gave its thumbs up to a proposal to cut employee wages as part of the government’s plan to boost diminishing revenues resulting from the reduction in tourism activity caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The CNMI Board of Education unanimously approved a 16-hour work reduction, or a 20 percent pay cut, for the over 1,000 Public School System employees on Wednesday.

The austerity measure, which includes a four-day school week, will take effect on April 1.

Last week, the BOE voted 2 to 3 to reject a similar proposal.

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“There was a miscommunication with the last vote when we voted no,” BOE member Phillip Mendiola-Long said. “We disagreed with the piecemeal approach on how to cut because you are messing with the emotions of the staff and teachers.”

MaryLou Ada and Andrew Orsini were the other BOE members who voted no to the proposed pay cut last week.

PSS management said the school system would run out of funds if the measure was not approved.

BOE Chairwoman Janice Tenorio said the board will reinstate the certification and licensure salary adjustment, which has been frozen since January 2019.

PSS human resources director Lucretia Borja said this will benefit 284 teachers and staff members.

“What we are going to do is give them the adjustment. It will increase their salary and then we will apply the 20 percent cut,” Tenorio said.