Lingle dangles carrot for DOE
She proposes that additional classroom funding be contingent on academic results
Gov. Linda Lingle wants to tie public school funding increases to academic improvement.
Last week, Lingle said she would consider using a portion of the state's $632.6 million projected surplus to fund some of the additional $453 million requested by the Department of Education.
Lingle, who was attending a Faith-Based and Community Initiatives conference yesterday, said money for education should have some strings attached.
"There is going to be a call for more funding for education, but we are going to propose it in a way that does two things: It ties any additional funding to specific results that are going to have to be achieved ... and No. 2, that any extra money goes directly to the classroom," Lingle said.
A critic of the Department of Education, Lingle said she would not propose "just putting more money into a system that takes half of the state general fund budget and we are still ranked in the bottom."
Lingle said she is still working out the details of the plan.
"It gives us the opportunity to say yes, we have a surplus, but we are going to tie it to real results and the public is going to support it. The public is going to support this because we know the schools have just not been performing," Lingle said.
Rep. Roy Takumi, House Education Committee chairman, said Lingle's new call for reform lacks details.
But, Takumi added, demanding accountability is not a bad idea.
"I think it is realistic in the long term. In the short term, I don't know how you could say give a school an additional $500,000 and expect reading scores to improve by 10 points the next year," Takumi said.
"Education improvement doesn't happen like that. If the school doesn't make the goal, do they give the money back?" Takumi asked.
Two years ago, Lingle proposed breaking up the statewide Board of Education into six or seven districts, but the Legislature fought the plan.
Instead of breaking up the board, lawmakers called for a restructuring of school funding, an ongoing process.
"There are many ways to improve student achievement. Our approach through Act 51 was to let the schools decide their approach and then hold them accountable for the results," Takumi said.
Lingle returned to her criticism of the school board during yesterday's conference, insisting it is flawed.
Noting that public school enrollment is down slightly, Lingle said private school enrollment in Hawaii is up.
"Parents are voting with their feet and spending so much of their hard-earned money at private schools because they want a chance for their children to do well," Lingle said.