Students, teachers react to budget cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Students, teachers react to budget cuts

Adam Snow Adam Snow
Jonathan Wong Jonathan Wong

By Leland Kim - bio | email

MILILANI (KHNL) -  Hawaii's public school students and teachers react to major cuts, passed by the state Board of Education.  It approved to slash $46.5 million Thursday night, which is about 15 percent of the DOE's discretionary budget.

Gov. Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii) wanted 20 percent, but even so, the cuts will no doubt have a major impact on our schools.  Still, the Department of Education tried to minimize impact in the classrooms.

Close to 250 jobs will be cut, but these are largely administrative positions.  Some key programs and school-level jobs were saved, but still, students and teachers are undoubtedly concerned about what this all means.

Mililani High School and other public schools were off this week, but a $46.5 million budget cut  will impact campuses like this, across the state.

"It would worry me about how it would affect my school life, how it would affect classes," said Jonathan Wong, a 16-year-old high school senior at Mililani High School.  "If that cut affected the schools, then it would just lead to, in my mind, mayhem for students because they would have to deal with old books that wouldn't relevant to what they're learning now."

One of the biggest cuts?   $2 million for science textbooks.  Mililani High School science teacher Andy Snow says the state should look for ways to find funding for school programs.

"If you want an education second to none, if you want to be economically competitive, you have to make sure programs are there," said Snow.  "You can't just make it sound like it's good, you actually have to put your money where your mouth is."

Other cuts include $1.6 million for speech pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists; and about $800,000 for athletic equipment and transportation.

But it's not all bad news. The Board saved the peer education program, and Special Olympics funding.

"The programs that were reinstated directly impact them, directly, hands on, and therefore the fact they were reinstated is a good thing," said Roger Takabayashi, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Students hope there are no more cuts and no more distractions, so they can focus on learning at school.

"It can help you find your future, it can help you find who you are as a person, especially in high school," said Wong.  "It helps you find out who you are, and what you can do in your life."

Students and teachers getting a life lesson in economics.

Still, the approved cuts fall short of Gov. Lingle's direction to slash 20 percent, or $69 million.

Now, it goes to the Budget and Finance Department. Then to the governor, for her approval.  The effective date, if approved, is July 1, 2009.

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