Friday, February 19, 1999

Budget cuts
threaten nonacademic
BOE programs

$14 million in cuts could
eliminate athletics, band and
special programs

Choking allegation cleared

Principal named to new post

By Harold Morse


Band transportation would be dropped, computer education cut back and fees for the A+ after-school program would be increased under a plan to reduce the Department of Education's budget.

The House Committee on Finance has asked the department to determine how the budget could be slashed by 2 percent, or $16.5 million, state Superintendent of Education Paul LeMahieu told the Board of Education last night.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has requested all departments, including Education, look at ways to cut budgets by 5 percent and 10 percent.

To achieve the deeper cuts, the department "would have to eliminate virtually all programs which are nonacademic and noncore," LeMahieu said in a letter to the board last night. "Such programs as A+ and athletics would have to be eliminated."

LeMahieu presented the board with a list of possible cuts in 25 areas totaling $14,255,672. "The impact is considerable," he said.

"The programs that are cut -- many of them are what I call partners in education with us. They are good programs."

The proposed cuts include elimination of $3.1 million for the special needs program, which provides money to schools with a high proportion of at-risk students. Other sources of funding, part of lump sum budgeting, would have to be used to fill the gap.

Computer education, losing $1.8 million in funding, would continue the downward slide begun last fiscal year.

This would "maintain the current level of reduction," LeMahieu said.

Band transportation, cut by $51,286, would mean "deletion of (the) program." Board member Denise Matsumoto objected somewhat, because there was no similar deletion of transportation for athletic teams, she said.

Schools would have to find other sources of funding, including charging band students for transportation or conducting fund raisers.

Otherwise, band participation at athletic events would be eliminated unless events are at home.

Earlier, Virginia Lowell, state librarian, said budget reductions would mean such cutbacks as libraries operating a one-shift 40-hour week, no children's story hours and maybe even some library closings.


McKinley principal
promoted to key job

By Harold Morse, Star-Bulletin

Patricia Hamamoto, McKinley High School principal, has been named deputy superintendent of education. Superintendent Paul LeMahieu announced the selection at a Board of Education meeting last night.

Hamamoto's first teaching job was at Highlands Intermediate School in 1975. She later taught at Ilima Intermediate and Pearl City High, entering school administration as vice principal at Maui High in 1983. She also served as vice principal at Nanakuli High and Intermediate.

She became principal of at Pearl City Highlands Elementary in 1987. She worked in the state personnel office from 1989 to 1991, became principal of Likelike Elementary in 1991 and became McKinley High principal in 1992.

School choking
allegation case closed

By Helen Altonn


Schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu says there's no evidence to support one account over another in the alleged choking of a child by a former Mililani-waena Elementary School principal.

LeMahieu today said he has completed an investigation into allegations of improper disciplinary action in an incident Aug. 28, 1998, and he has closed the case with no further administrative action.

A parent accused the principal of choking her 9-year-old son, a special education student who is autistic, after he had several altercations with other children. Her son now attends another school.

The mother was not immediately available for comment this morning.

There were different interpretations of what occurred, LeMahieu said, adding:

"I want to assure the public that every allegation was thoroughly examined, including the considerable additional input that the department received from the public in the last few weeks."

He said appropriate administrative actions were taken when the incident was first reported and investigated. The police also investigated but didn't pursue the case, citing lack of evidence, he noted.

"At the onset of this investigation, my primary concern was for the well-being of the children at Mililani-waena," LeMahieu said. "There is no evidence or reason to question that further."

He said he couldn't reveal details of the investigation but Board of Education members were informed. "They concurred that the review of the matter was thorough and that no further administrative action is justified at this time."

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