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BOE rejects tuition increase


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POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The state Board of Education opposed a proposal yesterday that would allow Superintendent Pat Hamamoto to seek summer school tuition increases in 2010.

A Department of Education summer school official suggested tying tuition to the cost of offering the summer courses.

Carol Shikada, director of the School and Community Leadership Branch, said some campuses have run deficits to provide summer school and many teachers pay for school supplies.

Summer school tuition was raised only once in the past decade, to $160 from $125 in 2002 for 120 class hours. Meanwhile, the top hourly pay for part-time teachers jumped three times during that period, going from $18.09 to $22.43, Shikada said.

Summer tuition would be $195 today if it had followed teacher salaries, she estimated.

“;Sometimes you have to do what you really don't want to do, at a time when you really don't want to do it, and I have to admit that perhaps this is one of those times,”; Shikada told a school board committee, referring to the economic downturn. “;To me, it makes sense. If pay increases, the tuition increases.”;

Even if summer school tuition reached $195, it would still fall below rates at some private schools such as Iolani School, which charges students up to $800 for 144 hours while giving teachers as much as $50 per hour, Shikada said. She said some public school employees who teach at private schools during the summer eventually leave the Department of Education.

Without taking a vote, school board members quickly dismissed the idea of future tuition increases.

“;I would fight to the nail any increase in cost,”; said member John Penebacker. “;We tell the public education is free and appropriate, yet we charge almost for everything: school transportation, school lunch, summer school.”;

School board member Maggie Cox asked the Education Department to return with more information about its summer school programs, including how many of its teachers are highly qualified. She also asked for a comprehensive plan showing different opportunities students have to take remedial and enrichment classes throughout the academic year.

“;Without having a plan I'm going to be voting no,”; she said. “;We need a plan for extended learning.”;

After the meeting, Hamamoto said she supported the school board's decision. She said the Education Department would look for sponsors and grants to help schools offset summer school expenses.