The State operates on a two-year budget cycle and this year gave us a chance to formulate a spending plan for fiscal period beginning July 1 and continuing through June 30, 2017. Both the Senate and the House money committees reduced spending levels in the already-slim budget sent to us by the Governor, and revenue projections reinforced the idea that we should not be looking at any large-scale new initiatives this year.
This session I accepted the Chairmanship of the Committee on Education, one of the most broadly-based committees in the Senate. It has responsibility for early education programs, all K-12 public schools, including charter schools, continuing education, and Hawaii's Public Library System. I am pleased to report that even in a relatively tight budget year, we did manage to pass key legislation that supports the State's commitment to early learning programs.
Senate Bill 820 - already signed into law - establishes in statute a prekindergarten program in the Executive Office on Early Learning that makes available preschool options for families who do not qualify for existing programs such as Head Start or Preschool Open Doors (POD) but who cannot afford private preschool. SB 64 appropriated $6 million for POD positions and subsidies for the program for another year.
Another bill - HB 11 - authorizes a $5,000 bonus incentive for teachers who are national board certified and who teach in a focus, priority or hard-to-fill school. That's in addition to the $5,000 per year bonus for earning board certification.
Under provisions of SB 374, the "running start" program is renamed the "dual credit" program. It expands this early college course program to include ninth and tenth graders who will now be able to enroll in classes at University of Hawaii campuses tuition free.
And finally, SB 1345 requires the Department of Education to come up with a plan to phase out multi-track schedules in the four public schools on Oahu where they are currently in place - including Mililani Middle School. It requires the DOE to give priority to overpopulated schools in making its annual construction budget request. I am especially grateful to Mililani Middle School Principal Elynne Chung who helped us work through several critical issues based on her school's experience with the multi-track, year-round school calendar.
Please review my End-of-Session newsletter that offers a more complete summary of our accomplishments this session.
To expand the DOE's digital learning pilot statewide, funds are being sought in the 2015-17 fiscal biennium budget and from other sources. The Department briefed a joint session of the education committees to review program results. A video presentation includes comment from Mililani Waena Principal Dale Castro, teachers and students who are using the digital devices supplied to each of the school's students. Read more...
The State Legislature will recognize students, teachers and school administrators during presentation ceremonies at the State Capitol over four days next week (March 17-20). Lawmakers have set aside Education Week for the past few years to honor excellence in teaching and campus leadership as well as student achievements in academics and community service.
Co-sponsors of the week's events are Senator Michelle Kidani, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, and Representative Roy Takumi, House Education Committee Chair.
"Nearly every day we hear about the outstanding accomplishments of students and teachers in our public schools," Senator Kidani said. "They deserve public recognition for their work. This is a very inspiring week for all of us at the Capitol."
Representative Takumi added, "Just last week we learned that Hawaii is one of only a handful of states that earned the highest marks for progress on reforms. The students and teachers we recognize during Education Week are perfect examples of the excellence we are striving to support."
This year's honorees will be recognized with congratulatory certificates from both the Senate and House. The ceremonies are open to the public with gallery seating available in both Chambers. The Senate convenes at 11:30 a.m. each day; the House convenes at noon.
View the news release for a schedule of Education Week's events and awardees.
The State Capitol hosts a public open house this Friday, March 6, beginning at 5:00 p.m. to show off artwork from the State's collection that is exhibited in lawmakers' offices and elsewhere in the building.
Senator Kidani has an unusual photographic art piece in Room 228. Here she talks about the art and the artist:
I joined Senator Maile Shimabukuro (at left) in a visit to Waianae High School in her Senatorial District to learn about the new installation of a photovoltaic air conditioning system in a classroom there. With us are students, WHS administrators and representatives from GreenPath.
Last week, Sen. Michelle Kidani (Chair of the Senate Education Committee) and Sen. Maile Shimabukuro visited Waianae High School to learn about a solar air conditioning unit donated to the school by GreenPath Technologies, Inc. The company installed the unit on one of the school's portables at the request of Sen. Shimabukuro.
The air conditioning unit is "off the grid," and therefore does not increase the school's electricity bill. This is a key factor, since the majority of HI's schools would require power upgrades, and incur large increases in their electricity bills, if they were to install traditional air conditioning.
This donation comes at a time when the DOE has been tasked to study how best to address the problem of hot classrooms. The DOE is working on a school cooling report, which they will release to the Legislature in the coming months.
For more information about solar air conditioning, visit the "Fahrenheit_73" Facebook page, or www.greenpath-tech.com (Note: GreenPath Technologies, Inc. is an SBA certified Native Hawaiian Organization (NHO) Owned 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business).
For more information about the Department of Education's Heat Abatement (classroom cooling program) visit online at:
Senator Michelle Kidani attended an honors assembly at Mililani Mauka Elementary School today, along with Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui and Jane Foley of the Milken Family Foundation. They were on hand to make the surprise announcement that a Mililani Uka grade K-2 teacher - Jana Fukada - had been selected as the 2014-2015 Milken Educator. The award is equivalent to winning the "Oscar of Teaching," and recognizes Fukada's passionate support of education and her anticipated future contributions to teaching.
View the DOE News Release
Please be advised that these pages may contain links to external Internet sites
established by other entities. The Hawaii State Legislature does not maintain, review,
or endorse these sites and is not responsible for their content.
We make every effort to comply to ADA standards, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation
Visit our ADA page here. If you have any problems with any of these pages, please
contact the webmaster with the page address and problems encountered.