CNMI CONGRESSMAN SEEKS FEDERAL SCHOOL FUNDING


Pacific Island Report

Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan
Saipan, CNMI

July 7, 2011

Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan today introduced legislation that would sharply increase the Title Igrant money the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System gets from thefederal government each year. The U.S. Department of Education announced the Title I allocations for school year 2011-12 last week and PSS will be receiving $3.7 million. Congressman Sablan expects his bill to double that in the future.

“PSS is highly dependent on federal grants to provide our children with the education they deserve,” Sablan said.

“So, we have to keep working to increase the funding our schools receive, if we want our students to be well prepared for the competitive and complex world we are living in.”

Title I grants are the largest source of federal educational assistance to school systems with significant populations of children from low-income families. The funds help schools meet the standards set up in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, keep facilities in good condition, and pay teachers and staff.

“An increase in Title I funding has been a shared goal for the members of the Board of Education, Commissioner Sablan and her staff, and myself from the beginning,” Sablan reported.

“Now, as we get closer to a possible rewrite of No Child Left Behind, it is important to stake a claim to higher funding.

“It will not be easy in the current fiscal environment. Money is scarce. Competition is intense.

“But our children – and their future well-being – that’s worth fighting for.”

Title I funding is allocated among the 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico based on each jurisdiction’s share of children ages 5-17 living under U.S. poverty levels. Funding for the Northern Marianas, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands andBureau of Indian Affairs schools, on the other hand, is reserved in a “set-aside” of 1% of total Title I funding. The insular areas usually get one-fourth of that.

The set-aside was originally intended to ensure that each insular area and the BIA schools received enough to provide a meaningful program and to protect them from competition with large state populations. Over time, however, the value of the set-aside has eroded.

Sablan’s bill will increase the Title I set-aside to 1.25%, with the insular areas receiving most of the increase.

Sablan was joined on his legislation by the representatives of Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of which would also get more funding under Sablan’s bill.

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