HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle, Board of Education Chairperson Garrett Toguchi, and Department of Education Interim Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi announced today all 17 “Furlough Fridays” scheduled for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year will be eliminated from the public school calendar, returning nearly 171,000 children back to the classroom.

The agreement was made possible due to a unique three-way public-private partnership between the State, teachers and the major banks in Hawaii.   The plan calls for use of $57.2 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund, $2.2 million in federal funds, and six planning days the teachers have agreed to give back to the state. A $10 million line of credit from local banks is also available if needed.

“I am happy to announce that furloughs are over and children will be able to return to the classroom for the entire upcoming school year.  We have been able to do this without laying off teachers, increasing the size of classes, raising taxes, or adversely impacting the State budget,” Governor Lingle said.  “I am particularly proud that the major banks in our state stepped up and offered a line of credit that will give the Department of Education access to additional funds, if needed, to help end the furloughs.”

“On behalf of our teachers, principals, school officials and support staff, I am pleased we were able to reach this agreement today and allow teachers to start their summer recess knowing instructional time has been restored,” said Interim Superintendent Matayoshi.

“Students, administrators, teachers, staff and parents ought to be commended for being resilient, keeping their heads high and doing everything they could to weather a difficult academic year,” said Board of Education Chairperson Toguchi. “While we worked hard to avoid and end furloughs in the past year, I’m glad funding has now been approved to support the supplemental agreement reached between the Board of Education and the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association, giving back to students all the days they deserve to be in school.”

“Although furloughs are behind us now, improving public education is a never-ending task, and our continued support will be critical to keep student achievement rising and to prepare graduates for college and careers,” Toguchi added.

Earlier in the day Governor Lingle signed Act 143 (SB2124 SD2 HD1 CD1) which makes $67 million available from the State Hurricane Relief Fund to restore instructional days.  Governor Lingle has pledged to release $57.2 million appropriated under this act to restore 11 of the 17 furlough days.

Teachers, through a supplemental agreement signed by the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the Board of Education, have agreed to give up six paid teacher planning days.

Because the Department of Education has said it may need additional funding beyond the $57.2 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund and $2.2 million in federal funds the Governor has pledged to release, a group of local banks has agreed to provide a line of credit of up to $10 million to assist the department if necessary.  The line of credit has no upfront costs and the banks have generously offered to give back all interest costs.

“Hawaii’s banking community is pleased to partner with the Governor, Legislature and the DOE/BOE in putting our students first and closing the chapter on Furlough Fridays,” stated Don Horner, chairman and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank.

The Board and Department of Education will now begin its work to finalize the official calendar for the 2010-2011 school year.

In addition to the hurricane relief money, Governor Lingle has pledged to release up to $2.2 million in federal State Fiscal Stabilization Funds to make certain charter school students also have a full school year. The money is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Part B funds, which governors have discretion over how to use.  Governor Lingle has elected to dedicate all of the Part B funds toward improving the quality of public education.

“While most of the 31 charter schools managed to find innovative ways to minimize the impact of furloughs, including 17 charter schools that did not take any furlough days, they should not be penalized and need extra funds to avoid furloughs in the coming school year,” Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. said.

The money appropriated from the Hurricane Relief Fund does not become available until July 1, 2010 and the law requires any unused amount to be returned back to the hurricane fund.   Because money in the Hurricane Relief Fund is invested, the Administration will work with the Department of Education to make money from the fund available in a manner that does not adversely impact the fund’s interest earnings.

“We recognize that this has been a very difficult time for our state, including our students, teachers and other school employees, parents and the general community,” said Governor Lingle.  “I appreciate the public’s patience as we worked to return students to the classroom without creating a budget deficit.”

“At this time, our focus is to look forward to ensure all Hawai‘i students get the most out of their time in the classroom by working together to improve the overall quality of education,” the Governor added.

Submitted by the governor’s office

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