Categorized | Education, Featured

Rally in Hilo to save teacher jobs and classes

Students, teachers, parents and supporters of Hilo High School protest Gov. Linda Lingle proposed diversions stimulus funds for education into other state agencies.

Students, teachers, parents and supporters of Hilo High School protest Gov. Linda Lingle proposed diversion of education funds. (Photography by Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com)

By Karin Stanton/Hawaii247.com Contributing Editor

A couple of dozen people rallied Friday afternoon at Hilo Bayfront in an effort to save Hilo High School teacher jobs and call attention to Gov. Linda Lingle’s plan to temporarily redirect funds away from schools.

Christine Mingo, event organizer, said the parents, students, faculty and staff who turned out Friday afternoon are concerned not just for Hilo High School, but for all public schools.

“It’s not just this school. It’s a lot of schools across Hawaii, across the whole nation really,” she said. “It’s a big issue.”

Mingo said she first became involved in the Hilo Intermediate School’s School Community Council several years ago when her daughter was a student, and feels compelled to stay involved although she does not currently sit on the high school’s SCC.

Many schools that are restructuring under the No Child Left Behind Act, Mingo said, would not be in the position if special education test scores were not included in the formula.

Students rally along Hilo Bayfront to bring attention to Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to divert education funds. Hilo High School has been forced into a position where it may lose 14 teachers, including several tenured educators who may be reassigned to classes outside their specialty or to special education programs. Among them are two physics teachers, an advanced placement English teacher and a French teacher. (Photography by Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com)

Students rally along Hilo Bayfront to bring attention to Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to divert education funds. Hilo High School has been forced into a position where it may lose 14 teachers, including several tenured educators who may be reassigned to classes outside their specialty or to special education programs. Among them are two physics teachers, an advanced placement English teacher and a French teacher. (Photography by Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com)

“These are some of the most valued teachers on campus,” Mingo said. “One of the physics teachers, when kids who were not interested in science at all take his class, they come out saying they might want to pursue science as a career. He’s brilliant.”

Mingo said the rally was to bring attention to Lingle’s plan, which she said may violate the accountability and transparency tenets built into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the intention that funds be used to save teacher jobs.

“It does not seem to allow this,” Mingo said. “It’s a shell game, but it’s a gamble and it really doesn’t make sense.”

Lingle has proposed snagging $90 million in state education money to balance the budget, and replace it once the federal stimulus money comes in. State Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto has voiced her concerns that the federal stimulus money might not reach Hawaii in time to replace the $90 million, leaving a huge gap in her budget.

Mingo said the Hilo High School SCC this week adopted a resolution urging Lingle to use all state stabilization funds exactly as specified, with preserving teacher jobs as the top priority.

In an effort to keep education funds in the schools, Mingo said she and other concerned parents and community members are circulating a petition and are urging other School Community Councils across the state to adopt similar resolutions.

— Find out more:

Save Hilo High: savehilohigh.com

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