Lingle tweaks
school reforms

The governor wants isle voters
to decide whether to create
four elected school boards

Gov. Linda Lingle offered Democratic lawmakers a compromise yesterday to salvage her stalled plan to break up the statewide public schools system.

The Republican governor is now proposing that voters be allowed to decide whether to break up the Board of Education into four elected boards -- one for each county -- instead of her original plan for seven local boards.

"We think it captures the spirit of what we're trying to achieve and allows the people throughout the neighbor island counties to finally be able to have control of their own schools to bring about the kind of improvement that they desired for a long time," she said at a news conference last night.

Lingle detailed that and other compromises to her education reform plan in a letter to lawmakers yesterday. She said she cannot support the current Democratic-sponsored legislation on school reform but stopped short of saying she would veto it if lawmakers approve it.

The majority Democrats in the state Legislature have so far rejected Lingle's proposals to replace the statewide Board of Education with locally elected school boards.

Other compromises that Lingle is offering would:

>> Allow three years to phase in a requirement to give school principals control over 90 percent of state education funds. Democrats have proposed giving principals control of 75 percent of school funds.

>> Cap the number of new charter schools at 12, rather than the 23 she proposed earlier. Democrats want no new charter schools.

>> Allow for the creation of school-community councils for each public school, as proposed by lawmakers, but limit their decisions to advisory rather than policy-making.

>> Extend the performance contracts of school principals from two years to three and give them the right of return to any other position for which they are certified.

House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Roy Takumi (D, Pearl City-Pacific Palisades) said he will consider Lingle's new proposals but indicated the House and Senate are close to reaching agreement on their omnibus education reform bill (Senate Bill 3238, SD2, HD2) and might not be able to fit in any of them.

He also said there will be difficulty in approving a constitutional amendment for any number of elected school boards, should the Legislature decide to do that, since there is no pending legislation.

"It's clear that in the governor's proposal she didn't talk to any of the stakeholders," Takumi added.

Lingle is proposing to fund charter schools based on a formula that takes into account the number of students and their special needs.

Takumi said charter school officials indicated to him that they do not want to be part of the proposed so-called student-weighted formula for school funding. And he said there has been no request for new charter schools.

Takumi said the Legislature will continue to focus on improving student achievement by providing more money for textbooks, lowering class sizes and providing for a parent network coordinator in every school and a student activities coordinator in every high school.


Lingle's revised plans
for school reforms

Gov. Linda Lingle proposed compromises yesterday to her plans to reform the statewide public school system. The compromises include:

>> Allowing voters to decide whether to break up the statewide Board of Education into four school boards -- one for Oahu and each of the three neighbor island counties. Lingle originally proposed seven local school boards.

>> Allowing for the creation of up to 12 new charter schools, as opposed to 23, which would double the current number of charter schools.

>> Allowing for the creation of a school site council at each public school as proposed by Democrats, but limiting the councils to only having an advisory role.

>> Placing principals on three-year performance-based contracts, instead of two-year contracts as she originally proposed.

Associated Press


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