Thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security Act—or CARES Act—the Northern Marianas College was able to go back to 80-hour pay periods for their locally funded staff that took effect in the first part of January 2021.
According to interim NMC president Frankie Eliptico, it was only the locally funded employees that were earning less than 32 hours per week that were affected, while the federally funded employees remained at 40 hours per week. The locally funded staff were on a 64-hour biweekly schedule in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 prior to going back to 80 hours.
“We are thankful to the governor’s allocation of CARES [Act] education funds to NMC that helped the college resume 80 hours,” said Eliptico. “The funds helped the college significantly, especially as the institution continues to post strong enrollment numbers and more students are looking to NMC for their personal and professional growth
Aside from the reduced work hours, the college had also implemented cost-saving measures in 2019 and 2020. That included a reduction in expenditures for supplies, equipment, and other operations-related expenses; non-federal hiring, and restrictions on travel.
Yet even if employees were on austerity, Eliptico said they wanted to make sure that “the students didn’t feel the austerity.” That meant not a single class was cancelled.
Eliptico also disclosed that because of the reduced hours, it took a while for the college to go through with the demolition of the 13 of the 37 buildings that were destroyed by Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018. These were buildings A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, Q, R, and S.
“We’ve been on a reduced operation and that has been really difficult for the institution, because we have, unlike many other institutions or agencies or organizations, been working to rebuild our campus, and with very limited hours, it’s hard to expedite a lot of contracts, procurement, and activities if your employees are at reduced hours,” said Eliptico.
Eliptico said he’s thankful to the Palacios-Torres administration, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), and the U.S. Congress for the CARES Act, which helped NMC resume 80 hours.
NMC recently completed its demolition of the 13 buildings and is now moving on with the next phase of rebuilding. According to Eliptico, they are already moving forward with the facilities master plan, which will establish the blueprint of future buildings of the campus. They expect to finish the main building—which NMC refers to as the flagship building—by 2022.
“We are thankful to the U.S. Department of Education, the governor, the NMC Board of Regents, the guidance of regulatory agencies, and other for their support and help with our recovery activities,” said Eliptico.