School board considers closing libraries - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

School board considers closing libraries

Brynn Davidson Brynn Davidson
Trent Davidson Trent Davidson
Emily Davidson Emily Davidson
Pat Hamamoto Pat Hamamoto

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Nearly half a billion dollars in mandated cuts over the next two years. That's the staggering amount Hawaii Department of education School Board leaders reluctantly agreed to Thursday.

Officials also announced the latest potential cost-savings may come by closing five state public libraries.

School leaders are considering shutting down:

Big Island

Holualoa Public Library

Pahala Public/School Library

Kealakekua Public Library

Oahu

Ewa Beach Public/School Library

Maui

Hana Public/School Library

 

Families argue the DOE might save up to $3.6 million,but students will suffer in the future.

"Insects are amongst the oldest creatures on earth," said Waialua Resident Brynn Davidson.

In the building's crowded hallway, right by the board room.

"I think this one's a dragon fly," said Brynn Davidson.

The Davidson's sit and they definitely love books.

"I read to my girls everyday," said Waialua Resident Trent Davidson.

There are five libraries up for closure across the islands. The Waialua one the Davidson's go to isn't, but they fear if five go, more might follow.

"We can't just go buy books and use up all our money," said Brynn Davidson.

"It's not just the state that's trying to cut back their budget, families are trying to cut back their budgets," said Waialua Resident Emily Davidson.

And that's why afternoon reading time has relocated to the department of education's budget meeting, to emphasize the importance of libraries.

"That expands their opportunities to learn and expands their opportunity to be exposed to diverse materials," said Trent Davidson.

There's heated criticism over site selections, especially from neighboring islands.

"They must have had a dart board, you put a blind fold on and threw it and whoa it landed on Hana. I said look they're going to close Hana down over my dead body," said Board Member Mary Cochran.

Specific cuts all hinge on ongoing teacher contract negotiations. Either by furloughs, salary savings or reducing casual hires, the department needs to slim back about $117 million in labor costs.

"It's not only about redesigning the department, but redesigning the school day, the school curriculum, the school calendar, but it's really about being a 24th century school system," said Superintendent Pat Hamamoto.

An education system that the Davidson's hope leaves libraries alone.

Nothing is set in stone yet, the board still needs to hear testimony and gather more information. It plans to make a final decision on the library closures on Thursday, July 16th.

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