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Marianas Variety: NMC weighs financial options (June 10, 2019)

NORTHERN Marianas College Interim President Frankie Eliptico said they are still exploring all options to avoid a further reduction of their employees’ work-hours.

During the House Ways and Means Committee budget hearing for NMC, Eliptico was told that the college had to absorb an additional $400,000 budget cut for a total budget cut of $825,000. For fiscal year 2019, which ends on Sept. 30, 2019, NMC’s budget was originally set at $5.2 million.

“We are trying to avoid that scenario,” Eliptico said, referring to a 64-hour work schedule. “That is why we are engaging the fiscal committees of the House and the Senate, the governor’s office and the [Office of Management and Budget] to see how else we can avoid a further cut than the additional hours to our staff and faculty.”

Since April 1, NMC has been implementing austerity measures such as cutting work hours from 80 to 72.

Despite the austerity measures, Eliptico said no classes have been canceled. “We are aiming to make sure that no classes in the fall semester will be canceled.”

NMC received a number of federal grants, but Eliptico said these come with very strict federal guidelines that don’t allow for local salaries to be funded.

“We don’t want to put our grants in danger by using those funds for other purposes,” he added.

Asked if NMC is considering a declaration of emergency, Eliptico said, “Not at this time. I am not saying we don’t have an emergency situation. At this time, I am not sure that an emergency declaration is necessary for the NMC. But it doesn’t mean that we won’t do it.”

He said the Board of Regents has given the college administration the flexibility to deal with NMC’s financial issues.

“The board has been very supportive. When we went to them for the first round [of the budget cut] they gave me the flexibility to be able to determine where those cuts are made,” Eliptico added.

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