Categorized | Education

Lingle proposes new furlough reduction plan


Gov. Linda Lingle has proposed a new plan to immediately return public school students to the classroom for 24 of the 27 days that will be lost between now and the end of the next school year if the current furlough schedule is allowed to continue.

Under the governor’s latest plan, up to $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund would be used to restore 12 furlough Fridays – five this semester and seven in the 2010-2011 school year.

An additional 12 instructional days – two this semester and 10 in the next school year – would be gained by using days when teachers are paid to be in their classrooms but do not teach students.

“Our revised plan keeps the focus on putting students back in the classroom for as many days as possible, which remains my highest priority,” Lingle said.  “As I have continued to stress since proposing my original plan, if the overriding issue is educating our children, then we need to move forward on this revised plan immediately in order to ensure students return to the classroom with the least amount of disruption to their schooling.”

The governor’s most recent solution to resolve the furlough Friday issue and return children to school builds on her original plan offered on Nov. 15 to restore all 27 furlough days from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 by using $50 million in Rainy Day funds to restore 12 furlough days while also converting 15 non-instructional days into classroom teaching days.

Last week, the HSTA, DOE and BOE proposed using $35 million from the Rainy Day Fund to restore five furlough days, and convert two non-instructional days to instructional day.

The HSTA/DOE/BOE proposal would use two-thirds of the $50 million offered by the governor to restore only five days of instruction time for the students this semester only, without addressing any furlough days for the next school year.

After Lingle-Aiona Administration officials met with BOE Chair Garrett Toguchi and then-DOE Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto last Wednesday to hear details of the HSTA/DOE/BOE proposal, Governor Lingle and her team carefully reviewed the proposal, thoroughly examined the financial information the DOE and BOE provided and looked at other alternatives.

State Budget and Finance Director Georgina Kawamura pointed out to the DOE its estimates of $35 million to restore five days of furlough time were inaccurate, as they were inflated by approximately $3 million.  The Administration has refined the estimate of how much it will cost to open schools in order to restore more furlough days classroom time for students.

The governor’s revised plan adds up to $15 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the HSTA/DOE/BOE’s proposed $35 million for a total of up to $50 million to restore 12 furlough Fridays – seven more classroom days for students compared to what HSTA, DOE and BOE offered.

An additional 12 instructional days would be gained in the next school year by using days when teachers are on campus but do not teach students.

“This solution would resolve the furlough issue for this semester and the next school year immediately, and allow teachers and students to focus on the lessons in the classroom, rather than being distracted by drawn-out furlough negotiations,” Lingle said.

This proposal is currently being considered by the employer group, comprised of members of the DOE staff, two BOE representatives, the Director of the Department of Human Resources Development and a representative from the governor’s office.

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