Charter schools brace for $1.8 million in cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Charter schools brace for $1.8 million in cuts

Libby Lenzer Libby Lenzer
Sue Deuber Sue Deuber

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

KAKAAKO (KHNL) - Charter schools are bracing themselves for a budget cut they say is a breaking point, especially for special education.

Officials say a $1.8 million cut could corner some charter schools to either close, or risk breaking the law.

Voyager in Kakaako is among the public charter schools that could lose a Student Services Coordinator (SSC).

"At the beginning of the year we didn't have an SSC and we were scrambling. It was scary actually. This is federal law we're talking about, and if you miss a deadline or timeline, you're in non-compliance with the federal law," said Libby Lenzer, Voyager's special education teacher.

Lenzer says a SSC serves as a gateway for students who want to enroll in her class, and without one, she may not be able to accept more students.

"If I had to try to absorb some of the SSC's responsibilities and duties, for one, my students would suffer tremendously because they wouldn't have the type of very intense services that they get now from me," she said.

The Department of Education plans to cut 28 SSC positions. For charter schools, that's more than a million dollar loss.

"A move like this, while it's understandable that cuts need to be made somewhere, but actually may, close a school," Sue Deuber, Principal of Voyager.

Deuber says she'd likely be forced to cut elsewhere to free up money for an SSC's salary.

SSC's are in charge of the eligibility process, from interviewing, testing and collecting data from students who wish to enroll in special education programs.

A DOE spokesperson says SSC's are optional, but their duties are not.

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