Public charter school to lose funding this month - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Public charter school to lose funding this month

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some of the remaining 70 students still attending Halau Lokahi hung Hawaiian flags outside as a show of support for the troubled charter school.  The State Public Charter School Commission revoked the school's license. The school will only be paid by the state until the end of the month. It is the first time a public charter school contract has been canceled.

"The functional reality for the school is its financial situation, its operational situation, its administrative capacity, on all kinds of levels this is a severely struggling institution and that's a legacy of a long time and very hard to change overnight," said Tom Hutton, State Public Charter School Commission Executive Director.

A meeting at Farrington High School Wednesday evening was set up by the Charter School Commission to help families transfer to other schools. However some parents are having their own meeting at the school and don't want to transfer.

The schools remaining money will go to $200,000 of unpaid rent and utilities.  Some vendors are yet to be paid as well.  There is still an estimated debt of about $88,000. If the school were to be left open the remainder of the year that number would climb.

The staff payroll for the remaining 10 employees is up to date, but only until January 31.

"What we're saying is there will be funding up until January 31 for payroll so if the families need a place for their child to go while they are working on the transition and to give staff a little time to make their transitions as well, but after that there won't be funding for it so they really have to move quickly and now is the chance at the beginning of the semester," said Hutton.

The School's acting director Elizabeth Blake says about 60-70 kids are still enrolled and continue to show up for school.  Even the school's board appeals, it would take months to resolve and there is no money.  Without funding Blake realizes there is only so long they can stay open even if staff voluntarily stayed onboard.

"They're essentially laid off at that point so if they are not state employees then how do they have access to children and student records so I really don't think it should come to that," said Hutton.

The Attorney General's office is also investigating what happened to about $100,000 in questionable expenses from the previous administration adding to the likelihood the school will have to close.

Blake says she is encouraging parents to do what they feel is best for their child.

"At this point what is best for the kids no matter how the process plays out is to get a good start in a new school," said Hutton.

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