Legislators approve
education reform bill

State lawmakers gave final approval to an omnibus education reform bill yesterday and sent it to Gov. Linda Lingle.

Legislature 2004
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State Legislature: Bills
& Hawaii Revised Statutes

Lingle has called the measure, Senate Bill 3238, CD1, "fake reform" largely because it does not include a proposal to let voters consider a constitutional amendment to replace the state Department of Education and statewide Board of Education with locally elected school boards. She has said she cannot support the bill, but did not say whether she would veto it.

The bill would change the way schools are funded, give principals control of at least 70 percent of their schools' budgets and establish school community councils for each school to help principals develop academic and financial plans. The councils would also play a role in selecting and retaining their principals.

The House passed the bill 39-12, and the Senate, 22-3.

House Republicans tried three times to keep alive a constitutional amendment for locally elected school boards after the majority Democrats rejected the proposal.

Rep. K. Mark Takai (D, Waimalu-Pearl City) reminded them there is no other education reform bill for them to vote on.

"A vote against this bill is a vote against education reform," he said. "There is nothing else."

Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kaneohe-Kailua) labeled the bill fake reform because it keeps intact the DOE bureaucracy and the BOE.

"It's a feel-good bill that will not result in student achievement," she said.

Rep. Chris Halford (R, Kihei-Keoneoio) had other words to describe the bill.

"I believe this bill is a face lift, maybe a makeover, but the essence of the education system is reaffirmed intact," Halford said.


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