Hawaii Governor Gets Mixed Legislative Win
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Gov. Linda Lingle kicked off this year’s legislative session with a broad plan to encourage more innovation in Hawaii’s education system, its economy, and its state government. But legislators didn’t fully buy in to her plan.
The governor had asked the legislature for $15.3 million over the next two years to pay for middle and high school programs in science, math, engineering, and technology. The money would have established what is known as FIRST academies, for Fostering Inspiration and Relevance from Science and Technology, and HIEST academies, for Hawaii Excellence through Science and Technology. Mentoring programs and college scholarships were also part of the proposal.
While lawmakers showed support for the concepts, they didn’t come up with nearly as much as Gov. Lingle had requested.
Lenny Klompus, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said officials were still determining the actual funding for the projects.
For fiscal 2008, the governor requested $2.31 billion for K-12 schools in a total state budget of $10.28 billion. Her request also included $40 million to replace and purchase new instructional equipment for schools, including books and computers. While the budget is not yet final, the budget approved by the legislature gives the state education department about $2.4 billion, an increase over the current fiscal year level of $2.26 billion. Hawaii has a single, statewide school district.
During the session, the legislature approved a bill expanding the duties of the state’s charter school review panel, and giving the charter schools administrative office, instead of the state board of education, more responsibility over staff and resources for the panel. Gov. Lingle, a Republican, has not yet signed the bill.
Also during the session, the legislature passed a bill that allows the state department of education to retain any vacant staff positions instead of reallocating them to local schools. The bill repealed a law passed in 1996, which was meant to decentralize authority away from the department.
Ms. Lingle allowed the bill to become law without her signature. In a letter to members of the Senate, she said that the move is premature because the state’s new weighted-student funding formula, which directs funding to schools based on their needs, is not yet fully implemented.
Vol. 26, Issue 38, Page 21