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Friday, April 7, 2000



Teachers’ Union
opposition frustrates
schools chief

'Misunderstanding' is
blocking an accountability
bill, says Paul LeMahieu

Bullet Hear Complete Audio Of The Session
Bullet New Mililani school to be multitrack

By Crystal Kua


When state schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu attended a town meeting recently, large numbers of teachers and principals turned out in apparent response to his call to keep collective bargaining out of an accountability plan.

"Union folks had put out a flier that the purpose of all this was to drive (them) back to the plantation days and therefore they needed to come out and show their support and voice their concern," LeMahieu said during a meeting with Star-Bulletin editors and reporters. "It really is quite remarkable how much misinformation and misunderstanding I ran into when I talked to folks out there."

With his accountability bill still alive this legislative session, the chief of Hawaii's public schools says he has seen the rhetoric and lobbying surrounding the measure pick up as the legislative session heads into home stretch.

"There are those who make of the unions the reason for every disappointment that they have in public education. They're wrong. There are those, though, on the other side, the supporters of unions, who will make this an anti-union matter because they can motivate people better through fear than through inspiration."

Mpeg Audio:

You can hear the complete audio recording of school superintendent Paul LeMahieu's meeting with the Star-Bulletin editorial board. Recorded April 6, 2000 at 9:00 a.m. in our conference room:

Bullet Click Here to Download 13.2 Megs
Bullet Click Here Streaming MP3
Quicktime | MPEG-3 info

Union officials deny misinformation being disseminated to the ranks, but say speculation on how accountability would affect members continues to grow because LeMahieu has not given details or explained why collective bargaining needs to be removed.

An accountability system of rewards, sanctions and assistance is a crucial component of LeMahieu's plan to reform public education, which also includes setting academic standards for students and assessment of how well those standards are being met.

LeMahieu has submitted legislation, which he calls his accountability bill, that would enable him to set the perimeters of an accountability plan with the details to be worked out by representatives with groups that have a stake in public education.

But LeMahieu -- as well as Gov. Ben Cayetano -- does not want the details of that plan to be bargained at the negotiating table, and has asked the Legislature for an exemption from collective bargaining.

LeMahieu said people have come to the opinion that what is being suspended is the contract and that seniority, tenure and transfer rights are out the window. The bill does not stipulate that, LeMahieu said.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Karen Ginoza said LeMahieu's lack of details -- not misinformation -- is what fuels speculation about the effects of the bill.

"There are no details to tell us what is going to be in the plan or why an exemption is needed," Ginoza said.

New Mililani school
to be multitrack

A Board of Education survey
helps decide a contentious
area issue

By Lori Tighe


Do you want your child to go to a multitrack school with air conditioning or a traditional school without air conditioning?

The survey question went to 270 parents in the Mililani Mauka area to help settle the debate over the new Mililani Mauka II Elementary School.

The survey said 110 parents want the air-conditioned multitracked school, while 70 parents opposed it.

The information helped nudge a conflicted Board of Education to pass a waiver last night to build the new Mililani elementary school for 650 students and multitrack it.

The board also added the amendment "to make a good-faith effort to acquire more land from the developer" for possible future school expansion.

Opponents displeased with multitracking the school wanted the board to approve a waiver for an 800-student school, which would cost about the same price to build.

"Even with a multitrack schedule, the school will not be able to accommodate all our children," said Jo Ann Inouye. "You can see it's going to happen and will only be a matter of time."

"In a perfect world, small schools may be ideal. However, study our community's reputation for elementary school population and success."

Inouye told the board each of Mililani's four existing elementary schools have 700 to 1,000 students and have a successful educational track record.

Laura Brown, representing the Mililani Complex PTSA, said the Department of Education included $400,000 into estimates for portables.

"This is what should be called 'planned overcrowding,'" Brown said.

"The DOE has plainly told the board that a school for 800 children is needed to accommodate Mililani Mauka's planned population. At the same time, the DOE is seeking to build an inadequately sized school for 650 students."

The multitrack debate centered on the board's small-schools policy that requires all future elementary schools to serve a maximum 550 students.

The waiver the board passed allows the new school to hold 100 more students, with the intent to multitrack them and accommodate 870 at any one time.

Multitracking splits students into four groups and then staggers them year-round, with one group always on vacation.

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