Honolulu, Hawaii



RE:    S.B. No. 2878

       S.D. 2




Honorable Colleen Hanabusa

President of the Senate

Twenty-Fourth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2008

State of Hawaii




     Your Committee on Ways and Means, to which was referred S.B. No. 2878, S.D. 1, entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


     The purpose of this measure is to establish in the State an early learning system, an Early Learning Council, and the keiki first steps program.


     More specifically, this measure establishes an early learning system in Hawaii to provide quality learning opportunities for children, age birth to five.  The measure creates the Early Learning Council to govern the early learning system and attaches the council to the Department of Education.  The measure also establishes the keiki first steps program as the first phase of the early learning system and appropriates funding for the program.


     Testimony in support of this measure was received from the Department of Education, the University of Hawaii System, the Center on Disability Studies, Honolulu Community College Early Childhood Programs, Kamehameha Schools, Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., Aloha United Way, the Hawaii Educational Policy Center, the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, PATCH, Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace, and twenty private individuals.  The Office of Information Practices and a private citizen submitted comments.  Testimony opposing the measure was received from the Department of Human Services.


     Your Committee finds that a comprehensive early learning program that ensures a continuum of quality early learning opportunities will not only benefit Hawaii's children and their families, but is important to the prosperity and productivity of the entire State.  Your Committee notes that the primary provisions included in this measure are based upon recommendations from the Early Learning Educational Task Force, which was established by the Legislature pursuant to Act 259, Session Laws of Hawaii 2006.  However, recognizing that the Early Learning Council will need additional time to fully develop and identify resources, providers, and facilities for the keiki first steps program to ensure its success, your Committee believes that a phased implementation approach is necessary.


     Your Committee has amended this measure by:


     (1)  Designating the keiki first steps program as a five-year pilot program, to begin implementation in the 2009-2010 academic year;


     (2)  Providing criteria upon which schools will be selected as keiki first steps participating schools and requiring that each district shall have at least two schools participating in the keiki first steps pilot program;


     (3)  Requiring the Early Learning Council to research program requirements and report recommendations regarding the implementation of keiki first steps pilot program to the Legislature prior to the start of the 2009 Regular Session;


     (4)  Requiring the Early Learning Council to submit annual reports and a final report, recommending whether the program should continue as a permanent program; and


     (5)  Deleting the appropriation provision for keiki first steps, while specifying that program funds should be requested in the 2009-2011 biennium budget.


     As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Ways and Means that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 2878, S.D. 1, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Third Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 2878, S.D. 2.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Ways and Means,