Decision on charter budget is
by Nancy Cook LauerHONOLULU -- When the state Board of
Education meets today in Hilo, it will be voting on an
operating budget and capital improvement budget for the public
school system. But the board won't be voting on the charter
Instead, the BOE Committee on Budget and
Fiscal Accountability deferred the charter school budget for
the second time on Wednesday, after committee Chairman Garrett
Toguchi announced he had concerns about portions of it that he
needed to discuss with the state attorney
"There are a lot of issues that have come up,"
Toguchi told the board. "I want to make sure we go down the
The sudden postponement surprised members
of the Hawaii Charter School Network, several of whom had
flown from Neighbor Islands to attend the board meeting. Even
some employees of the Charter School Administrative Office
were taken aback. The budget is already weeks behind schedule.
Budget proposals were supposed to be in Gov. Linda Lingle's
office by Sept. 11.
"I'm disappointed," said Interim Executive
Director Maunalei Love, "but we stand behind the budget we
Love, one of the cofounders of the Hawaii
Charter Schools Network and a local school board director at
Hakipuu Learning Center, is well- regarded in the charter
school community and has been trying to bridge what seems to
be a widening gap between the charter schools and the BOE. She
said she will serve as an interim director until January, but
she hasn't decided whether to apply for the permanent
"I'm just happy that I can support the
charter schools and the board," she said. "This is a time when
we all have to work together."
The proposed budget
narrative is available at http://www.hcsao.org/.
It asks for $58.4 million for operating
expenses for charter schools in fiscal year 2007-08 and $61.9
million for 2008-09. That comes out to $7,175 per student for
next year, a 3.3-percent increase over the 2006-07 per-student
funding, the charter office says.
It also provides for
three new charter schools, in keeping with state law that
allows a new charter school for every existing start-up
charter school that receives a three-year or longer
accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and
Colleges or comparable accreditation
Currently, three start-up charter schools
have attained accreditation -- Kihei, Myron B. Thompson
Academy and West Hawaii Explorations Academy.
schools, if authorized by the Charter School Review Panel and
the BOE, would need $2.2 million in operating expenses and
$387,678 in facilities funding each year over the next two
years, the charter budget proposal estimates. That's based on
an average enrollment of 100 students for each new
Toguchi said after the meeting that his
decision to postpone was a last-minute thing and occurred as
he read over the proposed budget before the meeting. He
declined to say what bothered him about the budget, saying he
needed to talk it over with attorneys first.
over the budget are just the latest in a series of
controversies over the BOE's handling of charter school issues
sparked by the board's Sept. 7 firing of former Executive
Director Jim Shon. Charter school students and staff from four
islands are planning a rally at the BOE meeting in Hilo
Nancy Cook Lauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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