Friday, February 12, 1999

schools ask help
to survive

The immersion program has
expanded but schools feel cheated
financially, a principal
tells legislators

Legislature Directory

By Crystal Kua


When the Hawaiian language immersion program at Anuenue School in Palolo Valley opened its doors four years ago, the school had no money for desks, chairs or bookcases.

With the $11,000 that Principal Lani Kapololu received to run Kula Kaiapuni o Anuenue, her biggest purchase was a copy machine that enabled the school to translate English textbooks into Hawaiian through a process of copying Hawaiian words on Post-it Notes and then laminating the sticky sheets onto the textbook pages.

1999 Hawaii State Legislature After receiving hand-me-downs from other schools and finally getting a furniture budget last year, the school has desks and chairs, although of varying sizes, heights, styles and colors.

Kapololu, shedding tears at times, recounted for state lawmakers yesterday the times she felt that her school and other Hawaiian language immersion schools were cheated financially as they tried to survive and to prevent their language and culture from dying.

"This is why we're asking for more money," Kapololu said.

The House Education Committee yesterday approved a $5 million appropriations bill for the program that would help fund classroom materials, development of curriculum, hiring of more teachers and support staff, continuation of Hawaiian language immersion training, bus transportation of students and opening of new sites.

Committee Chairman Ken Ito said approval will come with a notation in the committee report that the Board of Education, which considers immersion programs schools of choice, be encouraged to address the issues brought up during the hearing.

The Hawaiian Immersion Program began in 1987 with two sites and 40 students on two islands. The program has grown to 14 sites with 1,350 students.

Kapololu said that while the number of schools has increased, the overall budget hasn't kept up.

"The pie is the same size, but we're giving it to more people," Kapololu said.

Kapololu said the funding will help to reduce class size, give teachers time to develop curriculum and help in busing students to immersion sites, which the Department of Education doesn't provide.

The department currently budgets $1.9 million for the program statewide, with $850,000 for teachers, $15,000 for university tuition waivers, $55,000 for in-service training and the remainder for supplies.

Kapololu said her school budget is about $1 million for the 300 students in grades kindergarten through 12 and 25 full-time teachers at her school.

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