Categorized | Education

Legislature agrees on funding to end school furloughs


The Hawaii State Legislature has agreed on a bill to provide funding to restore educational furlough days for the remainder of this school year and through next year, using $67 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund.

House and Senate Conferees, meeting into Friday night, agreed to changes to Senate Bill 2124 that will provide the funding. In its current form, SB2124:

* Appropriates $67,000,000 from the Hurricane Relief Fund to restore instructional days;

* Specifies that the monies appropriated only be used to restore public school instructional days for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years;

* Allows for release of the funds upon completion of all negotiations of parties necessary to execute the restoration pursuant to collective bargaining; and

* Requires that funds that have been appropriated but not expended by the close of the 2010-2011 school year be returned to the Hurricane Relief Fund.

“Time is running out for this session,” said Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who helped draft the measure. “If we were going to do something, we needed to do it now, and we were not going to let this problem persist without some kind of action.

“Still, it was important that we preserve the collective bargaining process,” she said. “So we’ve provided the funding, specified its use, and let the parties know that the money is there if they can come to an agreement. It’s up to them now.”

“The importance of this bill is to demonstrate the legislature’s commitment to education and ending teacher furloughs,” said Speaker of the House Calvin Say. “We must get our children back into the classroom as soon as possible, and I urge the parties to come to an agreement.”

The bill now goes to the House and Senate for final reading.

In addition, Lingle, the state Board of Education and the Hawaii State Teachers Association still must decide whether to revise the two-year contract with teachers.

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