For the first time Friday, the Hawaii State Department of Education released school-by-school effects of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of budget reductions the governor has directed public schools to endure next school year, resulting in a range of 1,000 to 1,500 job losses, at least half which would affect teachers. 

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee said, "There could be even more job losses because the DOE wants to spend more than $50 million on private tutors and $10 million on summer school rather than protecting experienced, licensed teachers."

"How will hiring a private tutor make up for not having a teacher? The DOE should be using the stimulus funding to reduce lost positions and to avoid furloughs next school year," Rosenlee added.

Based on a summary of proposed cuts that the Board of Education will discuss and vote on Jan. 21, complex areas have projected a reduction in the following full-time positions (with percentage cuts):

  • 48 administrators (-7%);
  • 798 teachers, including librarians and counselors (-6.4%);
  • 346 classified instruction posts, such as educational assistants (-14%); and
  • 125 classified non-instructional positions, such as custodians and clerks (-4%).

The documents provided by the HIDOE to the BOE include a detailed breakdown, by school, of exactly how many of each position will be cut under the budget restrictions. Dole Middle School, for instance, lists decreasing one special education teacher, two EAs, one accounts clerk, one security officer, and one part-time teacher.

The BOE will discuss and vote on these cuts next Thursday, Jan. 21, as scheduled:

Click on each meeting to view the agenda, meeting materials, and instructions to join virtually. HSTA will also live stream the 1:30 p.m. General Business Meeting on our Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

State Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto told an informational briefing of the state Senate and House education committees Friday, “If there were additional labor savings that were imposed on the department,” next school year, “the numbers would go up exponentially from there.”

“This is separate from any conversations about furloughs, which has been held as a separate conversation, a negotiations conversation,” she added.

The HIDOE on Friday also released its plan explaining how it proposes to use $183.6 million in federal funds from the most recent COVID-19 federal relief package and approved by Congress and President Donald Trump at the end of last year.

The department wants to spend $53 million of the federal aid funds on English and math tutoring “beyond classroom instruction and to accelerate learning and minimize learning loss,” according to DOE budget documents. 

HIDOE would devote nearly $54 million of the federal relief funds to offset cuts to the Weighted Student Formula, $12 million for personal protective equipment in schools, $9.6 million for summer school to help students failing courses in high school or falling below classmates in elementary school, and $7.5 million for student devices “with anticipated matching resources from the private sector,” HIDOE said.

“That will help mitigate some of that capacity loss,” Kishimoto told lawmakers.

State senators and representatives plan to hold a separate briefing on HIDOE budget items following the  Jan. 21 BOE meeting.

Kishimoto said the federal aid money is approved for education in specific areas emphasizing personal protective equipment (PPE), learning loss, new types of learning through technology, etc. 

“It allows us to replace some of the lost dollars from the school level through Hawaii’s weighted student formula (WSF) funds,” Kishimoto told lawmakers. 

The federal aid includes about $10 million for charter schools, she said.

The governor's 10-percent reduction in the HIDOE budget amounts to $164 million next school year. The cuts could be lessened if Congress approves proposals by President-elect Joe Biden to provide cities and states as well as public schools hundreds of millions of dollars in aid because of budget shortfalls prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, state lawmakers say they are exploring ways to find money within the state budget or raise revenues to decrease the number of cuts to the education system and elsewhere in state government.

The HIDOE said In addition to staffing reductions, other critical reduction impacts on school-level operations and programming that could be affected by budget cuts next school year include support for smaller class size, casual hires who provide classroom support, after-school tutoring, enrichment classes, professional development, classroom cleaners, physical education, counseling, gifted and talented programs, band, art, textbooks and other instructional resources, 12-month positions (converting these to 10-month positions), dedicated English Learner program and technology coordination, Advanced Placement science labs, dedicated curriculum coordination, office and custodial supplies, clerical support, library support, on-line supplemental education programs like student transportation, sports and intramural programs, clubs, electives, summer school, peer education, robotics, replacement computers, security attendant services, school health aide services, and custodial services. 

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