Categorized | Education

Governor’s office refutes Toguchi’s statements


Linda Smith, the governor’s senior policy advisor, has refuted statements made by Board of Education (BOE) Chair Garrett Toguchi and again called on the BOE and Department of Education (DOE) to move forward on presenting her plan to the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) to use $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund to re-open schools for all but three of the remaining furlough days this semester and next school year.

Toguchi’s statement on Saturday that, “if she (the governor) wanted to, she could take her proposal to the HSTA herself,” is inaccurate.

Under Hawaii’s collective bargaining law – HRS Section 89-6(d)(3) – the governor cannot act alone in presenting a formal proposal to the HSTA. The governor must have the vote of either the Board of Education or the Department of Education, or both, in order to make a formal proposal.

Similarly, Toguchi’s contention that an agreement between the HSTA, DOE and BOE is already in place is inaccurate because by the same law there can be no formal agreement without the governor’s vote.

Gov. Linda Lingle has said she will not agree to the HSTA/BOE/DOE’s Dec. 28 proposal to use nearly two-thirds of the $50 million Rainy Day funds to restore only seven furlough days this semester and none next school year.

In addition, neither Lingle nor anyone on her staff or negotiating team has received the letter Toguchi claims he sent last week.

“We are once again calling on the Board of Education and Department of Education to stop stonewalling and to move forward on our reasonable plan to use up to $50 million in Rainy Day funds to return our children to the classroom and end the furlough situation immediately,” said Smith.

On Jan. 8, the governor proposed a new plan to use $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund to return students to school for 24 of the 27 furlough days. Since then, two more furlough days (Jan. 15 and Jan. 29) have passed, keeping students and teachers out of school.

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.

By solving the furlough issue immediately for this semester and next school year, teachers and students would be able to focus on the lessons in the classroom, rather than being distracted by drawn-out furlough negotiations.

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