Friday, March 29, 2002


Judge rules against
Hilo school seeking to
regain lost funding

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> A Hilo charter school's attempt to obtain lost funding failed yesterday when Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ruled that there is no contract requiring the state to give the school a specific amount of money.

Legal Aid Society attorney David Kimo Frankel argued for Connections charter school that a contract was created in 2000 when the Board of Education accepted Connections' charter.

The school was told last summer it would get $1.4 million, but that was reduced to $935,000, Frankel said.

Deputy Attorney General Patricia Ohara, representing state auditor Marion Higa, said the auditor distributed money under a new formula this year mandated by the legislature.

Nakamura rejected the contract argument.

Frankel later said: "All of the charter schools are hanging with their fingertips at the edge of a cliff. From now on, the discussions will be over crumbs rather than the whole loaf. The charter schools cannot survive on crumbs."

Despite measures in the Legislature that would help charter schools, Connections supervising teacher John Thatcher said the outlook is "very gloomy."

The school has no way to know how much money it will get next year, so it has to budget based on a "pure guess," he said.

Testimony in another Hilo charter school case indicated regular public schools are allotted about $7,000 per pupil. Thatcher says his school gets only $2,997 per pupil.