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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, April 29, 2005

Restructuring of 24 schools wins an OK

 •  Board won't increase A-Plus fee

By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Education Writer

Outside help for 20 struggling Hawai'i schools will cost more than $7.9 million under "restructuring" that's meant to improve lagging student test scores and comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.


Here is a list of companies that would help "restructured" Hawai'i schools to improve test scores, and the costs for one year, all pending final approval by the Board of Education:

Edison Schools Inc., $3,918,320, would work with:

  • Palolo Elementary
  • Jarrett Middle
  • Dole Middle
  • Central Middle
  • 'Aiea Elementary
  • Kahului Elementary
  • Pa'ia Elementary

The National Center on Education and the Economy, $2,018,188, would work with:

  • Kealakehe Elementary
  • Hilo Intermediate
  • Pahoa High and Intermediate
  • Na'alehu Elementary & Intermediate
  • Kea'au Middle
  • Waipahu Intermediate
  • Wai'anae Intermediate

ETS Pulliam, $2,005,540, would work with:

  • Wahiawa Middle
  • Hana High and Elementary
  • Maunaloa Elementary
  • Moloka'i High
  • Moloka'i Intermediate
  • Nanakuli High & Intermediate

State complex area superintendents will work with:

  • Waiahole Elementary
  • Hau'ula Elementary
  • Kahalu'u Elementary
  • Nanaikapono Elementary

Source: Board of Education

Four more schools will be restructured through a different method that leaves more responsibility with regional school superintendents.

The plans won initial approval yesterday from the Board of Education's budget committee, and several principals said they are optimistic about the assistance. Final approval is expected next month.

"We look forward to this," said Palolo Elementary principal Ruth Silberstein. "We see the tremendous support that will come in. ... The variables that are affecting us are so many, and the challenges are so great."

Specific restructuring plans are being prepared for each school, and the changes will take effect before the start of the next school year.

Jarrett Middle School principal Gerald Teramae said he believed his school would form a strong partnership with Edison Schools Inc., the company designated to help train teachers and overhaul curriculum there.

"They're not coming in to take over the school," Teramae said. "We just need help from a provider like Edison to help us get over the hump. I think we're at a point where we'll do whatever it takes to get the job done."

Restructuring the 24 schools will be the most intense remedy the state has applied yet under No Child Left Behind. The plan follows years of testing, in which the schools consistently fell short of state standards for math and English.

"The schools need these resources to help," said Sharon Nakagawa, Department of Education administrator for special programs management. "They're not failed schools. They need additional help, and maybe someone to look at them from a different perspective."

The companies are expected to work mostly with school staff, rather than directly with students. The goal is to set and meet clear benchmarks for student achievement, ensure curriculum matches the goals, and to implement the most effective teaching methods.

"It does not mean the school administrator is not capable," Nakagawa said. "It is a partnership."

Money for the services with come from federal grants, and will not require schools to cut art or music programs, officials said.

The companies will be expected to ensure that student test scores improve in one year. By the second year, the schools will be expected to meet state targets for "Adequate Yearly Progress."

Board of Education member Karen Knudsen stressed that the efforts will require good communication among everyone involved, since various new state and federal initiatives will soon trigger other changes to school operations.

"A lot of things are going on, and sometimes good intentions bump into each other," she said.

The affected schools are on every island but Kaua'i. All have significant numbers of children living in poverty, and most campuses are in rural or remote areas. Others have seen a constant influx of recent immigrants who speak little English.

Reach Johnny Brannon at jbrannon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8084.