Budget crisis won’t spare schools and that has educators worried about the future

Updated: Dec. 2, 2020 at 5:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the pandemic squeezing state budgets, public schools are facing as much as $264 million in budget cuts over the next two years.

And that’s got the teachers union asking which programs could be slashed.

Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said the DOE was asked to identify budget reductions of at least 10% in addition to a $100 million cut to the base budget this school year.

“With 94% of the department’s funds spent directly by or for activities at the school level, these cuts will be felt by students,” Kishimoto said. “We will continue to reiterate that an investment in students is an investment in Hawaii’s future.”

She plans to outline where those cuts will come from in a proposal to the Board of Education.

According to the proposal, 10% of the weighted student formula ― the money that follows each student based on their needs ― and a 9% cut of special education in regular schools are on the table.

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said the cuts have him very worried.

“Our teachers are dealing with a trio of problems both trying to open schools during a pandemic, the governor’s furlough discussions, and now dealing with these budget cuts and potential job losses,” he said, adding that other areas should be focused on, such as energy and testing.

State Rep. Sylvia Luke, the chair of the House Finance Committee, said there’s no doubt the cuts to state programs ― including to public schools ― will be painful.

“The result will be our revenue loss will be equivalent to somewhere along the lines of 1.8 to $2 billion in the next two years and trying to close that gap will be difficult without loss of government services and programs,” she said.

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