BOE approves state’s hefty budget cut proposal

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Board of Education (BOE) made a difficult decision on Thursday, Dec. 3 to approve the state’s hefty budget cut proposal. The budget cuts are so deep that the superintendent says there was no way to avoid impacts at the school level.

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The latest operating budget proposal is layered on top of an existing $100 million reduction, so the total amount comes out to $264 million for each of the next two years. The details of how the individual schools will be affected are not outlined yet.

“We will know that exact amount and what the impact is on schools, as the schools finish and complete – they have two more weeks to complete their school academic and financial plans,” said State Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

Superintendent Kishimoto plans to present the details to the public when it becomes available in December. The Principal at Keolu Elementary School in Kailua had already shed some light on the crippling affects during her testimony to the BOE.

“We will not have funds left over for instruction material, sanitation supplies, or even toilet paper. It might seem a bit strange that we may need to ask our parents to bring in cleaning supplies and toilet paper,” said Principal Gay Kong.

Principal Kong says they would need to cut two teacher positions, leaving only four teachers to serve seven grade levels. They also will have to cut two educational aid positions within the school’s special education program (SPED).

“For our SPED teachers, we’ll have one SPED teacher to serve grades K-6th and one SPED teacher to serve our preschool SPED population,” said Kong.

The board chair hopes for federal aid, but says they must work with the budget they have.

“This is not one year we’re talking about. The Governor has talked about at least 4 years of this level of cuts,” said Chair Catherine Payne.

This is is the beginning of a long process, as the proposal also needs approval from the governor and state legislature.

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