Schools formula may be revised
By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer
By Beverly Creamer
Twenty-five percent of the $899 million in operating funds that goes directly to schools each year would be divided among the campuses as a “foundation” or base grant, under an expected recommendation from the Department of Education’s second committee on weights to the Board of Education in mid-August.
What that foundation amount would do is keep small schools, especially, from struggling to find the money to manage their operation.
" ... We have to make sure those small schools have enough to survive," said committee member Roger Takabayashi, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
Board member Lionel Aona, a former Department of Education budget director, agreed. "The 25 percent base minimizes the discrepancy from school to school," he said.
But it would also roll back changes and return overall school funding to a formula closer to where it began two years ago.
There has been concern expressed by principals of large urban high schools such as Farrington and Waipahu that their schools wouldn't receive the additional money they need to educate needy students.
In finalizing its review of the state's first attempt a year ago to allocate school funding according to student need, the second Committee on Weights listened to concerns from schools that were losing the most, as well as those from board members worried that the state was moving too fast in making the changes.
Because the foundation grants would amount to about 25 percent of total school funding, that would leave much less to be divided according to student need. Allocating money by student need is the intent of the weighted student formula.
"What we're all trying to do is make the education system better," committee chairman Bruce Coppa said yesterday. "But the more that goes into that foundation, the less is going to the students. ... We were charged to move the money with the students."
The recommendations will get one more look by the committee before going to the BOE for consideration.
In looking at how to rearrange the division of an operating budget of $919 million for the 2007-08 school year, the committee also expects to recommend:
This study could also look at what is considered adequate funding for different student needs, including poverty. Takabayashi said there never has been a study in Hawai'i that nails those funding levels down.
Coppa said this study would also offer the department the opportunity to consider whether some schools should be closed.
Reach Beverly Creamer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: Twenty-five percent of the $899 million in operating funds that goes directly to schools each year would be divided among the campuses as a “foundation” or base grant, under an expected recommendation from the Department of Education’s second committee on weights. Also, Roger Takabayashi is president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. A previous version of this story stated otherwise.