State House lawmakers have rejected Gov. Linda Lingle proposed constitutional amendment to replace the state Board of Education with seven locally elected boards.
The largely partisan vote just minutes before midnight was 30-20 against the measure, which was Lingle's flagship education reform proposal. And because a similar measure was not taken up by lawmakers in the state Senate, it is possible but unlikely that the proposal will resurface before the Legislature convenes in May.
The bill, House Bill 2332, HD 1, also contained Lingle's proposal to replace the Department of Education with an appointed statewide education standards commission.
Rep. Mark Takai (D, Newtown-Pearl City) started the debate on HB 2332, HD 1, calling into question the study Lingle relies on in her push for locally elected school boards. He said there is no compelling evidence that shows that smaller school districts lead to improved student achievement.
"This bill does not get us where we want to be," Takai said.
Rep. Guy Ontai (R, Waipahu-Mililani) conceded that while no report shows a cause and effect between smaller school boards and student achievement, there is a correlation between smaller school boards and higher test scores.
"If you are looking for either student achievement, or more responsiveness, or accountability, or just a word or even parent participation, all of those things can be answered with a local elected school board," Ontai said.
Except for six Democrats who voted in favor of the bill, the vote fell along party lines. Thirteen of the 14 Republicans in the House voted in favor of the bill. Rep. David Pendleton (D, Maunawili-Kaneohe) was not present for the vote.
The House instead approved the majority Democrats' education reform package, HB 2002, HD 1, to decentralize school decisions and budgeting through school-community councils and a student-weighted funding formula.
They also approved four other constitutional amendment proposals.
House Bill 33, HD 2, would give the BOE and schools superintendent control over management and operations of the public schools, similar to the autonomy exercised by the University of Hawaii president and Board of Regents.