Schools facing $9M in cuts
The school board saves school support coordinator positions
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STORY SUMMARY »
Hawaii public schools face $9 million in cuts in educational programs prompted by the governor's 4 percent restrictions on spending.
Some of the educational cuts include:
» $1 million for coaches' salaries.
» More than $1 million for 10 resource teachers and workshops on how to teach special-education students how to read and write.
» $667,001 from the A+ afterschool program. Officials say fees for A+, school bus rides, lunch and adult education could be raised.
FULL STORY »
The Board of Education gave preliminary approval yesterday to cut numerous resource teacher positions, eliminate vacant jobs and pull $1 million from coaches' salaries in the 2009-10 academic year to comply with state spending restrictions.
In a 5-1 vote, the school board's Committee on Budget and Fiscal Accountability passed about $9 million in cuts recommended by the state Department of Education. Officials also refloated the idea of raising fees for busing, lunches, adult education and the Afterschool Plus program.
The action came after Gov. Linda Lingle told state departments on June 23 to lower operating expenses by 4 percent because of slowing revenue growth.
School board members rejected cuts to only one of 23 programs picked by the Education Department. They rescued seven Parent Community Networking Center district coordinators who help schools support parents and network with the community and businesses.
Denise Murai, a parent community network coordinator at Kalihi Elementary School, urged the school board to preserve the positions. In testimony, she said the program once helped her son -- who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and was failing school -- graduate and receive awards and scholarship offers.
School board members agreed the positions are too valuable.
"This is an area I'm going to be very touchy on," said Maui school board member Mary Cochran.
Schools Chief Financial Officer James Brese said officials would now need to find almost $256,000 that would have been saved by slashing those jobs.
The school board also raised concerns about eliminating more than $1 million for 10 resource teachers and workshops on how to teach reading and writing to special-education students.
School board member Denise Matsumoto said the program has helped students escape the special-education label. She also said schools were ordered under a federal consent decree to target literacy instruction for those students.
The Felix consent decree resulted from a 1993 lawsuit filed on behalf of special-needs student Jennifer Felix and others, who alleged that the state was in violation of federal law for failing to provide appropriate mental health and education services to children with disabilities.
Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto said schools have been hiring reading and math coaches to ensure teachers know how to instruct all children.
As for the $1 million cut to athletics, Hamamoto said schools would be forced to scale back or eliminate sports with little demand, look for volunteer coaches and donations.
Education officials said they were once again considering raising the price for the A+ afterschool program, school buses, lunch and adult education. Per child, the A+ program costs about $55 per month, bus fares are 35 cents for a one-way trip and the lunch price is $1.25.