HONOLULU(KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) released its plan to cut $400 million from its budget amid economic challenges caused by the pandemic. The superintendent said the impact would be devastating because students have already fallen behind and cutting the budget would make things worse.
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The DOE’s 135-page reorganization and restructuring plan slashes their budget by 10%, cutting 1,338 full-time positions.
Kalani High School teacher Brooke Nasser said, jobs are not the only thing at stake.
“The budget cuts will not only impact all the necessary programs that we need for our at-risk students, for students with disabilities, English language learners, low income students, students who under perform, they’re also going to impact our gifted and advanced students,” Nasser explained.
She said, electives and Advanced Placement courses are also on the chopping block, resulting in fewer opportunities for students.
Waialua High and Intermediate School will lose 10 employees and be left without any money for school operations, supplies or equipment, according to the proposal.
Victoria Pascaia, a teacher at Waialua High & Intermediate, said they are already struggling.
“We don’t have that extra cushion,” Pascaia said. “We’re struggling to pay our Xerox bill and oh my gosh, we don’t even have a lot of Xeroxing to do right now, because a lot of (school) is done online.”
Pascaia understands cuts need to be made, but at what cost?
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said, elementary students’ scores are down in Math and Language Arts and more than 10% of high school students were failing core classes in the first quarter.
“Our students have already lost so much due to the pandemic,” Kishimoto said. “Right now, our students need a public education system that can provide all the necessary services and resources they need to recover academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally.”
“The impact will be monumental in every single way that it possibly can be. The impact will not only be felt on academic levels, but social emotional levels as well,” Nasser said.
The Hawaii Board of Education will listen to testimony regarding the DOE’s proposed cuts Thursday, Jan. 21, at 9:30 a.m.