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Marianas Variety: NMC implement austerity measures; employees assure continued commitment to students (May 6, 2019)

IN response to the Office of the Governor’s March 22, 2019 letter informing Northern Marianas College that allotments to all CNMI agencies will be reduced across the board by 15 percent per quarter, NMC has enacted austerity measures.

To meet the reduction in appropriation from the central government, NMC’s austerity measures include a reduction in staff work hours by 10 percent, or a reduction in 8 hours per pay period.

Frankie Eliptico, NMC interim president, said despite the austerity measures, the impact to students is minimal: no classes have been canceled and students can still access student services without any significant interruption.

The 15 percent reduction in allocation from appropriated funds translates into about $385,000 that NMC has to reduce from salary expenses for the remainder of the 2019 fiscal year.

Eliptico said those who earn $25,000 per year or less are exempted from the work-hour cuts.

He also stated that the college began implementing other austerity measures earlier this year. These measures are part of the “Tier 1” level austerity measures, which were implemented before the reduction in hours. They include:

  • Leveraging available federal resources, including federal grants.
  • Comprehensive conservation efforts to reduce electricity consumption.
  • Restrict non-federal travel.
  • Restrict hiring of non-federal positions.
  • Reduction of expenses for supplies, equipment, subscriptions to educational resources, etc.
  • Reduction of adjunct and overload costs by increasing course capacity for courses in Spring 2019 and Fall 2019 to align with the actual room capacities

“The aim of these measures is not only to reduce spending, but more importantly, to continue NMC’s commitment to students and its high-quality programs and services while exercising fiscal responsibility to avoid any budget deficit due to reduced budget allocation from the CNMI government,” Eliptico said.

He noted that NMC instructional faculty and those employees whose salaries are federally funded have also been exempted from the 10 percent salary cut.

“It’s important to stress that despite the austerity measures, we have not canceled any classes,” said Eliptico. “The impact to students will be minimal.”

Alexis Cabrera, who is NMC’s Staff Senate president, said that staff members at the college are supportive of the austerity measures, and are working hard to ensure that NMC’s programs and services continue to operate efficiently.

“Students are our priority,” said Cabrera. “They always have been and they always will be.”

Last month, the NMC Board of Regents met and expressed support for the college administration’s austerity measures and the institution’s fiscal discipline.

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