Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto says she will ask legislators next year to change state law to give her more power to restructure failing schools—replacing principals, teachers, and staff members, if necessary—despite the proposal failing to gain legislative support earlier this year.
State law now limits the superintendent’s abilities to make those changes. Ms. Hamamoto wants that discretion, though she could recommend other options, state department of education officials said. States such as Hawaii have an incentive to restructure struggling schools; the Obama administration has proposed linking $3.5 billion in federal economic-stimulus aid to states’ willingness to take that step.
Hawaii faces a budget shortfall—$496 million in fiscal 2010, out of a total general-funds budget of $5.1 billion. Spending on K-12 education will fall from roughly $1.5 billion in fiscal 2009 to $1.3 billion in 2010. Schools are facing hiring restrictions; cuts to part-time teachers, coaches, and staff; and reduced travel, with the possibility of deeper cuts in the future, the department says.
A version of this article appeared in the September 23, 2009 edition of Education Week