Tuesday, October 5, 1999

Education chief
seeks more funds

The request is heading to a
board vote despite the governor's
instruction to hold
the budget line

By Crystal Kua


A school supplemental budget request has little fluff, but it still is not enough.

That's how the state schools chief yesterday sized up the Department of Education's $38 million supplemental budget request for next fiscal year.

"This is only a part of what we need," Superintendent Paul LeMahieu said.

The request for additional monies for the second half of the two-year budget cycle comes despite an instruction to all state departments last month by Gov. Ben Cayetano for no supplemental budget request, LeMahieu said.

"I honestly do not want to ignore the governor and his needs and his instructions to us," LeMahieu said.

But the department also has certain financial obligations that it must meet, LeMahieu said. "These are expenses that the system will incur."

Schools, responding to a stern memo advocating austerity, initially submitted $65 million in supplemental budget requests. The department first pared it to $44.7 million and then to a "trustworthy" $38.8 million.

Board of Education member Winston Sakurai also said he believes the department's "bare bones" budget is deserving of the $65 million amount.

The supplemental budget request, approved by the Board of Education's Budget Committee yesterday, includes $26.9 million that the department is obligated to pay because of a court order, collective bargaining and the opening of a new school facility.

The breakdown includes major obligations such as:

Bullet $883,674 to staff the new Kapolei High School which is slated to open in 2001.

Bullet $4.3 million for equipment, books and utilities for the opening of classrooms and other facilities for Kapolei High, Nanakuli Elementary, Keaau High, Konawaena Elementary, Konawaena Middle, Waihee Elementary and Lahainaluna High.

Bullet $9.2 million to comply with the Felix federal consent decree covering special-education students. This figure includes $4.8 million for 134 teachers and 67 educational assistants to cover an increase in the number of special-education students.

Bullet $8.1 million for programs that were funded in the first year of the biennium but not the second. The bulk of the money -- $5.7 million -- is designated for 167 teaching positions for the current fiscal year and 13 additional positions for next year. Another program needs continued funding of $1.4 million to develop a testing system linked to the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards.

The department is also asking for $11.9 million for needs that are not mandatory but critical.

The amount includes an additional $5.4 million for special-education needs and $2.3 million to complete development and implementation of performance standards in the state's standards-based reform.

The supplemental request also takes into account a decrease in statewide student enrollment, which determines the number of teachers hired. Instead of a reduction of teaching positions, the need for teaching positions is shifted to special education, LeMahieu said.

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