Wednesday, January 27, 1999

A+ funding
to run out by
end of March

The program needs $2.5 million
to finish out the school year

By Crystal Kura


Funding for the A+ after-school program will run out by the end of March, leaving the Department of Education trying to find the additional $2.5 million needed to keep operations going through the end of the school year.

"We're crossing our fingers," acting Assistant Superintendent Evangeline Barney said. "We think it's a very good program."

The projected shortfall was revealed at yesterday's school board Budget Committee meeting, during which the department discussed ways it was responding to an October audit of the A+ program.

About 22,500 students at 178 sites are enrolled in A+, which costs more than $11 million to run each year.

The Legislature, however, set aside $8.6 million for this year, leaving the department about $2.5 million short, department officials said.

The program has enough money through March 31, but there are no plans at this point to raise the $55-per-student fee.

Barney said the department will likely do what it did last year and ask Gov. Ben Cayetano, who created the program when he was lieutenant governor, to cover the shortfall.

The department could be in the same bind during the next biennium.

It has budgeted $10.3 million for each of the next two fiscal years. When asked how the department plans to make up the difference between the budgeted amount and the operating cost, Barney replied, "We'll do some belt-tightening."

State auditor Marion Higa in October completed a follow-up audit to one released in 1996 on the A+ program.

Higa said the department has improved oversight of program management, but more needs to be done in areas of fiscal controls, staffing, accountability when policies aren't followed and inadequate screening for student eligibility.

In response to the audit, Superintendent Paul LeMahieu sent a memo directing all A+ program sites to follow procedures in the A+ operation manual, officials said.

A+ officials said implementing additional training, monitoring and accounting procedures will help to address matters brought up in the audit.

Myrna Nishihara, A+ district coordinator for Windward Oahu, told the board that the additional time spent on monitoring procedures means less time for developing programs.

Barney said that as staff become more familiar with filling out forms and other procedures, more time could be freed up for program development.

Accused principal
to stay on the job



A Central Oahu principal accused of choking one of his students will remain in his post until the completion of a department investigation into the allegation, a district official said yesterday.

The mother of the 9-year-old boy appeared before the Board of Education last week and accused Mililani Waena Principal Gervacio Buenconsejo of choking her son, a special education student who is autistic, on Aug. 28.

Central District Superintendent Aileen Hokama said Buenconsejo will not be placed on administrative leave pending the investigation because he poses no danger to the students and there have not been any other reported incidents in the 12 years the principal has been at the school.

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