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Marianas Variety: NMC contemplates salary increases for teachers and staff (March 20, 2018)

The Northern Marianas College will review its current pay scale and classification list to determine the possibility of salary raises for its faculty and staff.

NMC president Carmen Fernandez said a team composed of NMC Human Resources staff, chief financial officer, and two vice presidents are studying the possibility of salary increases in light of the Public School System’s newly adjusted and very competitive salary scale.

Board Regent Michael Evangelista asked Fernandez if the NMC has the capacity to offer pay adjustments. PSS receives 25 percent of the CNMI’s annual budget, Evangelista said. “We don’t have that. We can offer whatever we want to compete with PSS, but in reality, can we really meet up?”

Evangelista clarified that he does not oppose giving teachers a salary increase. However, he expressed concerns that the NMC may commit resources that it may not be able to back up. “I support giving our teachers and staff an increase, but we have to be realistic,” he said.

Evangelista pointed out that the Legislature, for the past five or 10 years, has been consistently not giving NMC even half of the budget the college requests. “We need to start engaging the Legislature. We should be talking to them [in regards to the NMC budget],” he said.

“The threat of losing our employees to PSS is very real. Like I said, PSS can afford to do what they want to do because 25 percent of the annual budget goes to them. NMC doesn’t have that luxury,” Evangelista added.

Fernandez assured the board that the team would present a realistic proposal. “In terms of benchmarking salary, we are limiting to Step 1 and Step 2 unless there are extraordinary qualifications or hard-to-fill positions,” she said. NMC, according to the president, is hiring people at Step 1 and Step 2.

“We are doing what is necessary to mitigate our budget situation and to really be reasonable with our expenditures,” she added.

Compared to PSS, which is hiring all the way to Step 12, Fernandez said they cannot reach the salaries being offered by PSS. “The report that some of PSS salaries are higher than the University of Guam faculty is the reality we are facing today. We will only make recommendations to the board that is reasonable, that can be carried by our very limited budget,” she said.

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