Second battle on school
boards looms in House

Republicans want to revive the
proposal in another education bill

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the state House are poised for a second showdown next week on Gov. Linda Lingle's proposal to replace the statewide Board of Education with seven locally elected school boards.

The Democratic-controlled House voted down Lingle's proposal on Feb. 20. Since then the minority Republicans have indicated their intention to revive it by amending another education bill that won preliminary approval last month.

House Bill 1897 would allow persons 16 years or older to be elected to the Board of Education. Current law requires candidates to be a registered voter or at least 18 years old.

Republicans want to delete the original contents and insert the proposal when the bill comes up for passage Tuesday.

However, House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Kaimuki) has put off vote on HB 1897 until Tuesday, when the rest of the bills that are part of the Democrats' education reform package will also be ready for a vote, "rather than have them fragmented, where you don't get to see the whole package," he said.

Even if the Republicans' attempt fails Tuesday, Senate Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto (D, Salt Lake-Foster Village) has promised to give Lingle's proposal a hearing.

"If we don't hear it, people are going to be testifying on the seven school boards on other bills. So we might as well give them an opportunity to testify on the bill," Sakamoto said.

Other education bills up for passage Tuesday in the House:

>> HB 2002, HD2, would peg school funding to the number of students and their needs and give principals and school-community councils more decision-making authority.

>> HB 2184, HD2, would amend the Hawaii Constitution to expand the Board of Education to 17 members, each elected by and representing three state House districts.

>> HB 33, HD 2, would amend the state Constitution to give the board 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.

>> HB 1895, HD1, would add a new section to the Constitution to allow for elected local school boards at every public school.

Among the noneducation House bills up for vote on Tuesday are proposals to legalize physician-assisted suicides (HB 862, HD1) and to prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation (HB 537, HD1).

Also, HB 2370, HD1, would make it easier for law enforcement to win court approval for wiretap investigations.


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