Student: 2008

Along with most other states during the ’08/’09 recession, Hawai’i state government is suffering from a tax collection shortfall, compared to their previous forecasts. The Legislature was unwilling to raise taxes enough to cover the looming gap, and the Governor began trimming her departments accordingly.


Student: 2010

The state Department of Education, which runs all public primary and secondary schools, took a 14% ($227 million) haircut. The details aren’t the Governor’s kuleana, that falling to the Board of Education. The Board and the state teacher’s union (HSTA) agreed to 17 to 21 furlough days for each of the ’09 – ’10 and ’10 – ’11 school years, with a targeted savings of $114 million, the rest to come from programs and school-level funding. Rather than take the some of them on the 11 planning and staff professional development days, they took it all out of class days, to the tune of a 9.5% cut in instruction.

My theory is that before the Board and Superintendent Hamamoto sat down with the HSTA negotiators, they decided that their priority was to minimize disruption to the education bureaucracy. So, the kids can take it in the shorts, least the cadre of administrators, whose numbers doubled in ten years, be dissipated? In that time, the number of students shrank by 1.7%. If the DoE had seen fit to cut the administrative head count back to the ’94-’95 level, and allow for the 30% cost of living increase by ’06-’07, they might have had over $328 million of slack to work with. Why not? Dat why hard? Great, just great.