Hawaii education department has budget cuts reduced

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige has told the state Department of Education that its budget cuts would be reduced by about $123 million because of additional federal funds and more optimistic revenue projections.

The state agency learned of the news on Thursday. The Department of Education had been expected to reduce its overall budget by about 10% — that figure has been reduced to about 2.5%.

A 10% budget cut could have resulted in the loss of almost 1,000 department positions, including about 800 teachers, special education teachers, librarians and counselors, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

It also would have cut many physical education, art and robotics programs, among others.

At Kapolei High School, for instance, about 30 part-time teaching jobs would have been eliminated, along with early college program courses and a school security attendant. At Mililani High School, the cuts would have included six teaching positions and 16 special educational assistant positions, along with the loss of transportation funds, said Principal Fred Murphy.

Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said that even with the decision, about 700 teachers could still be laid off.

Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto in a statement thanked the governor and the Department of Budget & Finance for their decision.

“This is an extremely challenging time for the state with a lot of uncertainty and unknowns,” Kishimoto wrote in the statement. “I want to sincerely thank Gov. Ige and the Department of Budget & Finance for their continued support and willingness to work collaboratively with the Department to prioritize public education. We know there are competing priorities and tough decisions to be made, and we look forward to continued conversation on how we best support our students and protect public education.”