The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2004 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.
In an effort to address a severe teacher shortage, the Hawaii legislature passed, and Gov. Linda Lingle signed, legislation that creates new measures for attracting students into the teaching profession, and providing them with support once they are hired.
A new “teacher cadet” program will work to identify future teachers while they are still in high school. The law also encourages the University of Hawaii to revise its admission policies to make it easier for entering freshmen to declare an education major.
The law also will institute a new teacher-induction program. In addition, the act expands options for earning a Hawaii teaching license, including establishing reciprocal arrangements for licenses from other states and accepting college degrees from related fields.
During this year’s session, lawmakers also voted to form a 20-member Early Childhood Education Task Force as part of the Republican governor’s plan to expand preschool. As part of the effort, the department of education for the single statewide district will be required by Oct. 1 to identify unused classrooms that could be used for early-childhood classes.
The fiscal 2006 state budget of $8.9 billion includes $1.7 billion in general funds for K-12 schools, a 17 percent increase over fiscal 2005.
During the session, a new contract was signed with the Hawaii State Teachers Association that raises salaries 11 percent over two years, bringing the average annual salary in the state from $47,000 to $53,000. The raise will cost $20.4 million this fiscal year and an additional $77.1 million in fiscal 2007.