PSS claims it has complete accounting of ETC funds

By Moneth Deposa – Reporter Saipan Tribune


Public schools collect $210K in ETC funds yearly

A Public School System official insisted yesterday that PSS has a well-accounted education tax credit program where each public school is regularly audited for a full accounting of all the amounts they receive and spend.

PSS finance director Richard Waldo explained that each public school is assigned individual ETC account where their principals are the expenditure authorities. Although PSS has no direct control over the ETC funds, Waldo said the system helps the schools for proper monitoring and accountability of the money.

“The system wants to make sure that principals have their own immediate funds to get whenever they urgently need something for the schools such as light bulbs, toiletries, and supplies. The funds can also be used for the sports and scholastic events depending on where the school wants to use them. Public schools have a complete accounting of it since the beginning,” said Waldo.

The CNMI’s 20 public schools received approximately $210,000 last fiscal year under the ETC program, he said. This is a significant reduction from what schools received some three years ago, about $300,000.

Waldo said that public schools have received ETC donations between $180,000 and $210,000 every year. PSS has no records of how private schools collect and use their ETC funds.

Senate Bill 17-68, which seeks to suspend the ETC program, is sitting on Gov. Benigno R. Fitial’s desk after the House passed it despite strong opposition from public and private schools, educators, parents, and students. The bill estimates that $2 million will go directly to the general fund.

With the local government’s limited resources, Waldo said the ETC funds have greatly helped schools address their immediate needs.

“If the governor will act on [the bill].that’s the end of it,” said Waldo.

Administration officials earlier said that the measure will most likely pass due to some unaccounted ETC records, mostly in private schools.

The Coalition of NMI Private Schools, through its president Scott Norman, earlier expressed strong opposition to the measure and encouraged its 17-member institutions representing about 3,000 students to campaign against it.

Norman said member schools will have no option but to raise tuition and other fees to sustain their operation.

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