IN his Oct. 19 letter to the editor, Michael Parry commented on my remarks regarding the state auditor's report on selected expenditures of the Department of Education. My comment was admittedly not the best response to an issue that deserved a more thoughtful answer.
DOE budget is a
click away on the Net
The fact is, though, that information about the DOE's budget is readily available on the Internet. The Web site provides a detailed account of allocations and expenditures by program and by school. Simply go to http://www.k12.hi.us and, under "Accountability and Statistics," click on "School Reports."
Although budget information is available, the auditor is recommending that the DOE install a computer software program that would provide even more detailed information that would allow for analysis and comparisons.
I agree with the recommendation. In fact, it was my interest in obtaining a more detailed analysis of our expenditures that prompted my initial response.
The DOE also responded favorably to the report by acknowledging that the "analysis of selected expenditures might stimulate useful and constructive dialogue about education policy, programs and practices."
Further, the auditor stated, "This is a major shift by the department in finally acknowledging that our information is more useful."
The Board of Education's Committee on Budget and Fiscal Accountability, for which I am chairwoman, will specifically address the auditor's suggestion at its next meeting. We'll begin exploring the various software programs available on the market.
The committee has also directed the DOE to undertake a complete program review so that we will have information about the effectiveness of programs. This will be the first time that such a comprehensive review has been conducted.
The goal is to determine which programs conform to the Hawaii content standards and deserve increased funding and support, and which programs may need to be adjusted or eliminated. The study should be completed by February.
Public concern about how education dollars are being spent is valid and deserves public attention. The BOE takes its fiscal responsibility seriously and regularly schedules committee meetings to review and discuss budget matters.
These are open to the public, and input from the community is always welcome.
AS for Parry's concern about the "conflict of interest" charge, I'd like to remind him that my husband, Greg Knudsen, has been with the Department of Education since 1987 and has been communications director for seven years. This is a civil service position; he is not a "political appointee."
I've served on the BOE since 1990. We've worked hard over the years to ensure that our responsibilities are appropriately carried out with respect to our separate roles. I find it interesting that Parry has never expressed his concerns about a conflict of interest prior to this politically charged election season.
Karen Knudsen is first vice chairwoman of the state Board of Education.