BOE postpones vote on cuts


POSTED: Saturday, June 13, 2009

After hearing testimony from teachers and others on the need to maintain current services, the state Board of Education deferred a vote on proposed budget cuts of nearly $260 million for the next school year.

;[Preview]    Hawaii's Teachers Plead Against Education Cuts

The state Department of Education delivered a plan to the Board of Education that would potentially cut the budget by $226 million.

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The board decided instead to ask Gov. Linda Lingle and state legislators to find new revenues for public schools.

Board Chairman Garrett Toguchi said he would like the governor and legislators to look at using the $100 million reserve in the state's hurricane emergency fund and possibly raising the general excise tax temporarily by half a percentage point.

“;We want to make an effort to see if we can shake the tree, get some money. At the same time we realize we cannot wait too long,”; he said.

Meanwhile, the board passed a measure authorizing the state Department of Education to use a portion of its budget to open the schools for the next school year, which starts next month.

Toguchi said the decision on how to deal with a projected budget deficit might not be decided by the board until August and that the board has not received a formal notice from the state Department of Budget and Finance.

Some board members said they felt they had not received enough details to determine the impact of proposed cuts.

“;We're talking numbers but not looking at the human side of it,”; board member Donna Ikeda said.

Along Punchbowl Street near the building housing state education administrators, scores of teachers held signs saying, “;Teachers 4 Fairness”; and “;Don't Risk Hawaii's Future.”;

Inside, teachers testified they were already stretched financially and warned that further cuts would lead to good teachers leaving the state.

“;If we shortchange our kids, they are less likely to meet their promise,”; said Andrew Snow, a teacher at Mililani High School.

Louise Cayetano, a teacher at Fern School Elementary in Kalihi, said she uses her own money to help some students buy slippers and T-shirts and pay for excursions.

She said students sit on broken chairs in classrooms and do not have enough social-studies books.

“;Funding is important in all these areas,”; she said.

The proposed budget cuts would keep salaried positions but require a 5 percent cut in nonlabor costs amounting to $16 million.

They would also cut $120.3 million by reducing hours for casual hires and substitute and part-time teachers, and include furloughs.

The department gave no specific numbers about the possible cuts in teaching hours, pending closed-door negotiations with the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Roger Takabayashi, HSTA president, said he supports the board members' idea of looking for other funds.

“;I think it's a good move,”; said Takabayashi, whose union represents more than 13,000 teachers.

“;Nobody wants to lose instruction days for children.”;




Lingle looks to feds for school funding

        Gov. Linda Lingle is applying for $192 million in federal stimulus money for education, beating a July 1 deadline to seek the funds.

Lingle sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yesterday seeking $111 million for the state's public schools, more than $46 million for its universities and $35 million for charter schools and science and math education.


Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi had previously worried that Hawaii could fall behind some 27 other states that already sought the money, but he praised Lingle for her quick action.


Lingle says she is committed to using all of the money for education reform.


Associated Press