Officials still in talks on furloughs


POSTED: Thursday, December 31, 2009

State education officials and the Lingle administration said they're continuing to discuss ways to increase instructional time in a school year that budget cuts have reduced by 17 days.

But Gov. Linda Lingle's senior policy adviser, Linda Smith, said budget officials need time to review figures and may not be able to decide by Monday, the first of two teacher planning days the union and education officials have proposed to convert into instructional days to make up for the time when schools are closed because of furloughs.

“;We don't see Jan. 4th as a hard and fast deadline,”; Smith said yesterday.

Smith, Budget Director Georgina Kawamura and Human Resources Development Director Marie Laderta met for about 90 minutes yesterday morning with state Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi and Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto.

A total of 17 days have been cut from the 2009-2010 school year—with seven taken so far—and another 17 furlough days are scheduled for the next school year.

The board and union have proposed using $35 million of the state rainy day fund to restore five instructional days, and to have the teachers use two planning days as instructional days.

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Lingle has said she wants to use $50 million of the rainy day fund to pay for 12 instructional days ending in June 2011 and for the remaining days to be switched from planning days.

Toguchi said education officials provided detailed information about the talks between the board and teachers union, since Lingle administration officials weren't present at the most recent discussions.

The board and administration have offered different calculations about the funds needed to pay for a school day.

Toguchi said DOE figures show that funding a school instructional day would require between $6 million and $7 million, including transportation and utilities, and that financing five school days would total about $35 million.

Smith said the administration included only employees essential to teaching on those days and did not include funding for the department's headquarters and complex areas.