BOE to cut school
budget by $3 million

The panel will also disclose
results today on two statewide tests

By Susan Essoyan

The state Board of Education will consider today how to pare $3 million from the public school budget in each of the next two years, as directed by Gov. Linda Lingle, without laying off staff or shutting down A+.

Also on the agenda for today's meeting are the much-delayed results of statewide testing of students last April. School-by-school scores on both the new Hawaii Content and Performance Standards Assessment and the Stanford Achievement Test will be made public.

Yesterday the Department of Education said that most of the state's elementary schools met or exceeded the national average on both the reading and math portions of the 2002 SAT, but the majority of local high schools failed to do so.

Nationally, the test is normed so 23 percent of all test takers score "above average," 54 percent score "average" and 23 percent score "below average."

For a school to meet or exceed the national norm, 77 percent of all students must score average or above, the DOE said.

The 12 high schools (21.1 percent in the state) that met both the reading and math standards were named to the DOE's Stanford Achievement Test "Honor Roll." They were joined by 130 elementary schools, 58.6 percent, and 20 intermediate-middle schools, 30.3 percent.

"This performance helps dispel the mistaken notion that Hawaii's public school students cannot meet national standards," Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto said.

"There are bountiful examples of excellence in our public schools," she said.

The board will also decide where it stands on various legislative bills, including Lingle's push to create seven locally elected school boards. At a meeting of its Ad Hoc Committee on Governance earlier this week, members voted to oppose that proposal.

Yesterday the House Education Committee passed a different bill that would create community advisory boards, attached to 15 clusters made up of high schools and their feeder schools.

On the budget front, the DOE has already warned that the A+ program might have to be shut before June under spending restrictions imposed by Lingle for this fiscal year. The rationale was that student education, rather than child care, should be the department's priority.

But Hamamoto told Georgina Kawamura, state director of finance, in a memo this week that the school system "will do everything it can to avoid closure of the A+ program." Kawamura and others had objected to cutting A+.

The BOE must decide where to trim $3 million from its $1 billion-plus budget in each of the next two fiscal years.

The Lingle administration has directed its departments to cut spending without laying off staff, according to Edwin Koyama, budget director for the school system.

"No matter what we do, there will be direct impact on the schools," board member Breene Harimoto said at a Budget Committee meeting this week. "Spreading the cuts around probably makes the most sense."

The board meets at 3:30 p.m. at the Queen Liliuokalani Building downtown to consider the test results and other reports. It reconvenes at 7 p.m. to handle the budget as well as board positions on legislative issues.

For more information or to submit testimony to the board, visit

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