Maui News

State Education Board Holding Two Virtual Meetings Dec. 3 on Proposed Budget Cuts

December 2, 2020, 3:26 PM HST
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The state’s proposed budget cuts to the Department of Education could lead to the layoff of teachers. File photo Courtesy: Kamehameha Schools

The Hawaii State Board of Education will hold two meetings Thursday, Dec. 3, to vote on the proposed Department of Education budget for the 2021-23 fiscal biennium. Due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the proposed budget includes a 10-percent cut for public school operations and positions and consideration of a 9-percent cut to special education.

The Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association (HSTA), which represents 13,700 public school teachers statewide, said these two proposed cuts could potentially lead to a loss of more than 1,000 regular education and special education teachers, resulting in higher class sizes and reduced course offerings.

“We need to protect education, our keiki and their education is too important to endure these cuts,” HSTA president Corey Rosenlee said in a news conference today. “The cuts at least deserve community conversation of what it would do to education.”

In Maui County, there are currently 1,532 public and charter teachers on Maui, 113 on Molokaʻi and 48 on Lanaiʻi.

The state Council of Revenues projected in September that the state’s general fund revenues that were about $7.4 billion for FY 2019 will not recover to those levels until FY 2024. The Department of Education is Hawaiʻi’s largest agency, with 21 percent of the state’s general fund budget.

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The proposal 10-percent reduction is to the weighted student formula (WSF), which is the primary way the state funds public school operations and positions. The Board of Education also will consider a 9-percent cut to special education along with many other reductions to public education. In all, the department is proposing $164 million in reductions, and that does not include possible furlough cuts alluded to by the governor that could affect educators’ take-home pay, according to the HSTA.

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Tomorrow’s Board of Education Meetings:

To learn more about the proposed education budget (Action Item C), click on the following link: Board Action on Finance and Infrastructure Committee recommendations concerning Department of Education’s operating budget for 2021-2023 fiscal biennium. 

The state has spent most of its federal CARES Act funding targeted for education. Congress currently is working on a new federal stimulus package to help with the impacts of the pandemic.

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