forming 8 school boards
A report says local panels could
respond to school needs faster
The state should have a minimum of eight elected boards that would monitor and evaluate their district's schools and principals, according to a Lingle administration committee's draft report on decentralizing the public school system.
The report, the culmination of months of work by the 22-member Citizens Achieving Reform in Education Committee, is expected to be finalized by Dec. 15 for inclusion in the governor's legislative package.
Under the committee's draft plan, a local school board would be required to evaluate principals every two years based on their schools' test scores, program planning and budget management.
The local boards would be closer to schools and more able to respond to their needs than the statewide Board of Education is, according to the committee, which was formed by Gov. Linda Lingle, who has made breaking up the statewide system a cornerstone of her education reform policy.
Local boards would also have the power to decide whether to renew a principal's contract, according to the committee.
"You've got to monitor performance, and you've got to move out principals who can't do the job," said William Ouchi, the governor's educational consultant, at a committee meeting yesterday afternoon. "Principals will not get away with abusing teachers, with being capricious," he said.
The report also outlined the role of the proposed state Education Standards Board, which would allocate resources and issue annual report cards on the performance of each district and school.
The committee said in their report that the Legislature should appoint, and the governor confirm, members of the board. Previously, committee members had said the governor should appoint the state board's members.
The proposed service term for the board members is still undecided, but Ouchi suggested that members be given 12 years in office. A long appointment limits any politicization of the board, he said, because its members would outlast the governor's maximum term of office.
Lingle attended a portion of yesterday's meeting and said she was pleased with the committee's work.
She said that she could not vouch for decentralization because it has never been put in place in the state, but "I know what we have now isn't working."
In October and November the committee took public comments at a series of open forums around the islands. A number of meeting attendees -- many of whom were teachers or school administrators -- were concerned about the lack of details available on how decentralization would affect individual schools and students.
But Lingle said the Legislature and local school boards, once they are in place, would be responsible for building on the foundation of any accepted plan.
"It's not easy. It's not pretty. It's not tidy," she said.
Laura Thielen, a member of the committee and the state Board of Education, said "a lot more discussion" within the committee needs to occur before the report is sent to the Governor's Office.
She also said decentralization is a huge undertaking and that residents would not feel its effects right away.
"A change of this magnitude is going to take some time," she said. "We are talking years and years of transition."