Budget Includes Aid to Address Backlog of Facilities Projects
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The precollegiate education spending figures do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
A budget surplus is allowing Hawaii education officials to catch up on a backlog of school repair and maintenance projects throughout the statewide district.
The Fix Hawaii’s Schools Act, which the legislature passed this year, provides $75 million in new aid for major repairs and another $160 million for what is called “whole-school renovation,” in which tasks such as painting, fixing windows, and replacing carpet are all done as part of the same project.
In addition, $130 million is being allocated for other capital-improvement projects for additions and renovations to several schools.
The fiscal 2007 state budget of $9.6 billion includes $2.2 billion for K-12 schools—a 7 percent increase in funding over the previous budget.
Gov. Linda Lingle’s budget, as approved by the legislature, also includes $1.8 million for school-based substance-abuse-prevention programs and $1.5 million to provide early-childhood education and establish an Early Learning Educational Task Force. Both those spending measures build on previous programs.
To address teacher shortages in key subject areas, legislation passed during this year’s session also allowed the Hawaii Department of Education and charter schools to employ retired teachers and administrators without their pensions being affected. Introduced in a State of the State Address by Gov. Lingle, a Republican up for re-election this year, the plan calls on retired educators to also serve as mentors for new classroom teachers.
Another bill signed by the governor directs the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board to develop alternative-certification criteria to increase the number of vocational and technical teachers in the state.
Ms. Lingle also allowed some education bills to become law without signing them because she had objections to some of their provisions.
For example, legislation was passed that creates a review panel for charter school applications. The panel could make recommendations to the state board of education, the state’s lone charter authorizer but doesn’t really have any authority, Ms. Lingle wrote in a letter to legislative leaders.
Vol. 26, Issue 01, Page 34