More than 100 take part in rally demanding end to school furloughs - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

More than 100 take part in rally demanding end to school furloughs

Marguerite Cazin Marguerite Cazin
Marguerite Higa Marguerite Higa
Emilia Cazin Emilia Cazin

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - They've taken part in a sit-in at the Governor's office and camped out outside the Governor's mansion. On Sunday, members of Save Our Schools Hawaii held a rally at the state Capitol demanding an end to furlough Fridays.

More than 100 people gathered for the event. The Legislature says it needs a solution by this week if instructional days are to be restored any time soon.

State lawmakers say they need the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the Board of Education and the Department of Education to resolve the financial differences they have with Governor Lingle. Their deadline has been extended to Wednesday.

Chanting and waving signs, parents, students and others took part in a down-to-the-wire push to convince the parties in the school furlough dispute to reach a compromise that will get children back into the classroom.

"Since there's furlough Fridays, kids have not been able to get educated as well," Marguerite Cazin, 5th grader, said.

But striking a deal is a monumental task when you consider there's a $30 million gap between the two sides. Save Our Schools Hawaii blames the lack of progress on Governor Lingle, saying she needs to be more involved in negotiations.

"It's really a time to put politics aside and to get to work to get the solution out there," Marguerite Higa, Save Our Schools Hawaii, said. "So what we're looking for is leadership. That's what we want, a leader to come and solve this problem."

But the Governor calls the group misinformed, and says the teachers union is sticking with a proposal the state can't afford.

"We don't understand what's going on," Emilia Cazin, concerned parent, said. "This is something beyond my understanding. We don't know. We are completely puzzled, desperate. We are depressed. We try to help our children. We try to obtain something, but nothing happen and I can not explain why."

The Governor on Sunday sent a letter to Save Our Schools Hawaii saying, "Your misguided and misdirected demands that seek my engagement in something that I am already doing will not alter the circumstances before us. The DOE/BOE and HSTA must recognize the fiscal reality confronting our state."

"This is not right. We need school for our children," Emilia Cazin said. "No matter what, good economy, bad economy, school needs to be open."

Lawmakers have agreed in principle to use money from the state's Hurricane Relief Fund. But without a settlement as to the amount, they may not be able to avert the next school furlough scheduled for April 23rd.

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