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Senate to grill DOE on stimulus


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POSTED: Saturday, November 07, 2009

A special Senate committee examining alternatives to public school teacher furloughs is trying to determine whether federal stimulus dollars could get students back in classrooms.

The committee has scheduled a briefing Monday to hear from state education officials about the availability of stimulus money.

Lawmakers want to hear from the Department of Education and Board of Education on how much money has been received, how much has been spent and how remaining money will be spent.

Some have called on lawmakers to go into special session to try and find funds to restore public schools days being lost to labor furloughs. Support for a special session is waning, after members of the House leadership said they preferred handling the matter in next year's regular session.

House Speaker Calvin Say joined state education officials and Gov. Linda Lingle in calling for a reopening of the Hawaii State Teachers Association contract to renegotiate terms to restore furlough days.

In a written statement, HSTA President Wil Okabe said the union was “;not opposed”; to renegotiating the contract. “;However, we are perplexed by the calls for HSTA to reopen the contract and renegotiate the terms without any viable options being proposed.”;