Commonwealth Constitution : Article XV
EDUCATION

Section 1: Elementary and Secondary Education. 

a) Every person in the Northern Mariana Islands has the right to free, compulsory and public elementary and secondary education within age and educational levels provided by law. The educational system shall provide maximum educational and training opportunities and be sensitive and responsive to the needs and desires of the community as it pursues its central objective of developing human potential. The educational system shall also provide support and guidance for students in assessing areas of interest and ability, in clarifying values and goals, and in providing students with clear and accurate information so they may gain the most from their educational experience. The educational system shall recognize the distinct and unique cultural heritage and indigenous way of life of the people and shall be committed to provide for the language needs of the people and the preservation of their cultural integrity within a global community.

(b) Administration of the public elementary and secondary education system of the Commonwealth shall be the responsibility of a superintendent of education appointed by a representative board of education. The board of education shall formulate policy and exercise control over the public school system through the superintendent. Other matters pertaining to its operations and duties shall be provided by law.

(c) The board of education shall have five members, elected at large on a non-partisan basis as follows: one from the first senatorial district, one from the second senatorial district and three from the third senatorial district. Elected members of the board of education shall serve terms of four years except that the terms of the first members elected shall be determined by drawing of lots with three members serving a term of four years and two members serving a term of two years. The governor shall appoint three nonvoting ex-officio members to the board of education: one member shall be a high school student attending a public school; one member shall be a representative of nonpublic schools; and one member selected by the teachers within the Public School System. The selection process of a public school teacher representative shall be established by law. Elected members of the board shall serve commencing on the second Monday of January in the year following the regular general election at which they were elected. The elected board members shall be limited to two terms.

(d) A member of the board of education shall be qualified to vote in the Commonwealth, at least twenty-five years of age, and a resident and domiciliary of the Commonwealth for at least five years immediately preceding the date on which the member takes office. A longer residency and domicile requirement may be provided by law.

(e) The public elementary and secondary education system shall be guaranteed an annual budget of not less than twenty-five percent of the general revenues of the Commonwealth through an annual appropriation. The budgetary appropriation may not be reprogrammed for other purposes, and any unencumbered fund balance at the end of a fiscal year shall be available for reappropriation.

Source: Original provision (ratified 1977, effective 1978); amended by Second Const. Conv. Amend. 38 (ratified 1985, effective 1988); subsections (c) and (e) amended by House Legislative Initiative 15-3 (2007), subsection (e) amended by House Legislative Initiative 18-12 (2014).

Commission Comment: House Legislative Initiative 18-12 (2014) contained the following Findings section:


Section 1. Findings. The Legislature finds that the guaranteed funding level of fifteen percent for the Public School System was established in 1985. The level of funding public education in other jurisdictions of the United States is closer to twenty-five percent of their annual budget. Increasing the guaranteed portion of the annual budget to twenty-five percent is reasonable and necessary to address the importance of education in the Commonwealth.



 

Section 2: Higher and Adult Continuing Education. 

a) The legislature shall establish by law a Northern Marianas College that shall be headed by a president. The president of the college shall be appointed by a representative board of regents. The board of regents shall be appointed to staggered terms by the governor and shall have autonomy in the administration of its affairs. The composition of the board of regents and other matters pertaining to its operations and duties shall be provided by law.  The licensing authority of post secondary educational institutions in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands shall be there Higher Education Commission which shall be established by law. 

b) The purpose of the college shall be to provide the best quality and meaningful postsecondary and adult educational opportunities for the purpose of improving the quality of life for the individual and for the Commonwealth as a whole. The college shall be responsible for providing education in the areas of adult and continuing education, postsecondary and adult vocational education and professional development for the people of the Commonwealth. The board of regents shall establish the mission statement of the college.

c) The college shall be guaranteed an annual budget of not less than one percent of the general revenues of the Commonwealth. The budgetary appropriation may not be reprogrammed for other purposes, and any unencumbered fund balance at the end of a fiscal year shall be available for reappropriation.

Source: Second Const. Conv. Amend. 38 (1985); subsection (a) amended by House Legislative Initiative 15-1 (2007); subsection (b) amended by House Legislative Initiative 17-12 (2012).

Commission Comment: House Legislative Initiative 15-1 amended subsection (a) of this section by removing “and shall formulate policy relating to the higher education needs of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands” from the third sentence and adding the last sentence. House Legislative Initiative 17-12 amended subsection (b) by replacing “mission” with “purpose” in the first sentence and adding the last sentence.