Thursday, December 30, 1999

School board committee
votes to delay bus transfer

By Crystal Kua


If the student bus transportation program is transferred to the Department of Education, state Schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu said he doesn't want a projected $2.7 million budget shortfall to accompany it.

"We're just concerned that it doesn't come with a built-in deficit that will hurt other programs," LeMahieu said. Bus transportation for public school students currently is administered by the state Department of Accounting and General Services, which has a $20 million budget to run the program.

Gov. Ben Cayetano's administration is proposing to transfer the busing services to the DOE along with 10 positions and a budget of $21 million.

Also being proposed for transfer are occupational and physical therapy services to students, a program that now falls under the state Health Department. The transfer entails a $2.3 million budget and 63 positions.

The governor wants the transfers to become effective July 1 through an executive order.

LeMahieu was concerned that both the transportation and therapy programs could have shortages in manpower and money, which could have an impact on funding for other educational programs.

DOE Budget Director Evelyn Horiuchi said the bus transportation program had a $700,000 deficit June 30, the end of the previous fiscal year. Analysts project another $2.7 million shortfall at the end of the current fiscal year, the day before the administration wants the transfer to occur. LeMahieu said he welcomes the programs to the DOE but only if they can transferred "clean."

He asked the Board of Education's budget committee yesterday to approve his recommendation to postpone the transfer of the programs until 2001 so that all the details can be worked out, including consultation with unions and employees.

LeMahieu also asked the board to endorse three criteria any program would need to follow before being transferred to the DOE: that all personnel and personnel costs be transferred; the transfer be accomplished without program disruption; and that no shortfall or deficit accompany the transfer.

The committee voted to support LeMahieu's recommendations.

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