Tuesday, August 14, 2001

BOE wants
consistency in
school schedules

Options for year-round schools
will be narrowed to just 3

By Crystal Kua

Numerous calendars used by nearly 150 year-round schools will likely be reduced to just three.

The Board of Education's Student Services Committee yesterday approved three calendar options that these schools can choose from beginning next year.

"Over 50 percent of our schools are on year-round calendar, and each calendar is different," said Art Kaneshiro, who oversees year-round education for the Department of Education. "This is an attempt to try to address parental concerns ... and also system concerns."

The committee also approved a change to the calendar for the current 2001-2002 academic year that allows schools to convert four instructional days, which students would have to attend, to days off for students so that teachers can use the time for professional development.

Both actions were the result of items in the recently negotiated teachers' contract, which was settled following a statewide strike by the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the union representing Hawaii's 13,000 public school teachers.

But because the contract remains unsigned over unrelated bonuses, the board moved forward -- but with caution -- with voting to implement the items.

"I don't want the HSTA to come back and fight with the board," said board member Winston Sakurai, one of two board members who sits in on contract negotiations.

The contract remains unsigned because of a dispute between the state and the teachers union over whether bonuses for advanced degrees should be paid once or twice during the final two years of the contract.

The HSTA has said it plans to file a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board to try and resolve the matter.

Concerns over the multitude of year-round calendars led the department to negotiate with HSTA to reduce the number of schedules.

The three options were popular with year-round schools. They attempt to strike a balance between preserving the decision-making at the school level while addressing the concerns.

"Personnel and payroll have a real hard time dealing with over 150 calendars," Kaneshiro said. "So during negotiations the whole idea was trying to bring that together."

He said parents were also complaining that sometimes a child in elementary school would have a different calendar than a sibling in a middle school.

Department of Education officials in the past have also said that differing calendars and daily schedules also contributed to the school bus transportation program operating in the red.

Kaneshiro said that complexes -- high schools and the schools that feed into them -- are also being encouraged to align their calendars so there would be less conflict.

The options now go before the school board for final approval.

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