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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 6, 2006

Give 'weighted' school plan a chance to work

Legislative efforts to take some of the sting out of the recently adopted "weighted student" school funding formula are well-intentioned but ultimately miss the target of what was intended by the law.

If there is extra money going to the schools, which is what these bills propose, then it should be folded into the ongoing weighted formula rather than added in an arbitrary manner.

Under the Reinventing Education Act, known as Act 51, a formula was developed that allotted money on the basis of "need," as measured by the individual needs of individual students. Some schools gained while others, particularly smaller schools, lost money.

In response, the Legislature is looking at at least two bills that would pump additional money into the schools. One, Senate Bill 3102, authorizes additional teachers for all schools. The other, Senate Bill 3195, provides additional millions to what some "losing" schools would receive under the weighted formula.

Rather than tying the funds to specific hiring targets or specific schools, the right approach is to give the money to the DOE and allow it to fold the support into the ongoing weighted funding program.

Weighted student funding is a dramatic and sometimes traumatic change. Since legislators imposed this idea on the Department of Education, they owe educators a chance to make it work.