‘HONOLULU — Hawaii State Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi issued the following statement today regarding negotiations to reduce the number of public school furloughs:’

I’m disappointed that Governor Lingle and her advisers have rejected a supplemental agreement by the Board of Education, the Department of Education, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) to reduce the number of public school furloughs. After hours of sharing information and answering questions, it was confirmed today that the Governor will not support the current agreement.

The Board, the Education Department and the HSTA offered a reasonable agreement that would have eliminated furlough Fridays this school year. The plan would have restored five furlough days with $35 million from the Rainy Day fund, converted two teacher planning days into instructional days, and ended the school year three days earlier to minimize disruptions to students and parents. The agreement also would have increased Hawaii’s chances of winning some $75 million in federal Race to the Top grants. One key criteria of the program, whose application is due Jan. 19, requires states to make education funding a priority.

The current agreement is fiscally responsible, and a viable solution that puts students’ interests first.

While this is a devastating setback for public education, the Governor’s staff willingness to meet again and devise a new proposal is encouraging. However, given the urgency of the matter, it is imperative that we come up with a workable proposal that gets students back to school before time runs out.

‘Garrett Toguchi is with the Board of Education’

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