School board debate draws small crowd

Catherine Payne
Catherine Payne
Garrett Toguchi
Garrett Toguchi

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HAWAII KAI (Hawaii News Now) - A crowd of fewer than 30 people attended a debate at Hahaione Elementary School Tuesday night on whether Hawaii's Board of Education should continue to be elected or whether it should be appointed by the governor.

Here is the question voters will be asked in the General Election November 2.

"Shall the Board of Education be changed to a board appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, as provided by law?"

If a majority of voters answer "yes," the state constitution will be amended and the board will be appointed by the governor.

If a majority vote "no," or the "no" votes added to blank votes make up a majority, the school board will continue to be elected. Blank votes count as "no" votes on questions of constitutional amendment.

Board of Education chairman Garrett Toguchi made the argument for keeping the current system in place.

"It's not as if the system is failing. The system is actually doing well and we're looking forward to continued success with funds from race to the top. (We're getting) another $11.5 million from the federal government for struggling schools, so it doesn't make sense right now to change course to have an appointed board. Appointed boards also inject a lot of politics into the education system," Toguchi told Hawaii News Now.

Former Farrington High School principal Catherine Payne made the argument in favor of an appointed school board.

"We need to be able to hold someone accountable for what they do and what they accomplish. The governor is the person to hold accountable for public education in our state and an appointed board would allow us to hold the governor accountable for success or lack of success in our public schools," Payne said.

People on both sides of the issue urge voters to educate themselves on the school board issue before going to the polls November 2.

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