Education a Major Focus in Governor's State of the State Address

House Education Chairman Roy Takumi (D)
House Education Chairman Roy Takumi (D)

(KHNL) Improving public education is one of Governor Lingle's top priorities. She outlined some aggressive plans in Monday's State of the State address.

"Education must be one of our highest priorities, and is deserving of more support," said Lingle. "It is our hope for a better tomorrow, both for us as individuals and as a state."

Public schools are badly in need of repairs. The repair backlog is estimated to be $600 million.

The governor proposed increasing funding for construction, repairs and maintenance by $90 million.

Lingle says with the $570 million already appropriated, the total budget would be $660 million.

"But that $90 million, I'm not sure whether or not it includes the planning and construction of new schools," said Rep. Roy Takumi, the House Education Chairman. "You take that off the top and we're really not making a dent, just a little scratch at the problem there."

"These are big numbers, although they are not as large as some have suggested," said Lingle.

In her address, Lingle also said the state must make sure the money is being spent wisely.

The governor also had 4 proposals to address the teacher shortage.

They would be:

-- Allow retired DOE teachers to be hired without any loss of benefits.

-- Start a master teacher program, giving a bonus to certified teachers who mentor other teachers at underperforming schools.

-- Create an emergency certified teacher program, which would allow anyone with a bachelor's degree to teach, after completing a training program.

-- Cut the amount of time in the educator loan program from 10 years to 6 years.

Takumi said retired DOE teachers are already allowed to teach, and the working time for the educator loan program is already six years.

Despite that, Takumi said he is intrigued.

"The governor offered a lot of food for thought," said Takumi. "And I think the session, we're gonna have a lot of spirited debate and dialogue and we'll see what the end product looks like."