Put money in the hands of schools principals
In recent years the state has thrown a lot of money at the public school system. The Department of Education receives nearly a quarter of the state's entire operating budget, the largest of any state agency (www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session 2008/bills/SCR91_.htm
But little seems to have been accomplished. Some say that this is evidence that the problem is not about money. But all you have to do is walk around the campus of any public school and then walk around the campus of any private school to see that the difference is still about money.
The disrepair of our public schools persists despite the fact that public schools spend more per student than many private schools do. According to one news report, the public will spend nearly $15,000 per pupil by fiscal year 2009, more than many private schools in Hawaii.
The problem now is about allocation of funds; the money we taxpayers are putting toward our public schools is not getting to the students. Both the public and DOE bureaucrats alike recognize this and want to put control in the hands of principals.
The Reinventing Education Act of 2004 should have given principals control over at least 70 percent of their budgeted funds (Star-Bulletin, Aug. 7, 2005). And yet today principals still control only 43 percent of their budgets.
What's more, funding allocated for construction costs has not been used. More than $2 billion has been appropriated for repair and maintenance of schools, but only $356 million of the total has been allotted to date, according to one report. If this money had been in the hands of principals, the needed repairs and renovations would have been made.
DOE bureaucrats need to adhere to the Reinventing Education Act and put the money in the hands of principals, because it is the principals, and not DOE bureaucrats, who know the needs of our schools.
Jacquelyn Chappel is a teacher at Sacred Hearts Academy.