Hamamoto: Budget cuts, furloughs not factors in resignation
By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Education Writer
Pat Hamamoto, in a lunchtime interview with The Advertiser today, said drawn-out negotiations over teacher furloughs and cuts to the public education budget did not influence her decision to resign as chief of the Hawaii school system.
“It’s a personal decision," Hamamoto said. "I’ve been thinking about it for a year now. A year ago we talked about it, but it wasn’t the right time. We’re at a place where it is a right time. I know I’ve put in place a team that is confident and dedicated, the initiatives are in place. I’m not walking away leaving pukas, or the place in shambles.”
These were Hamamoto’s first public statements about her resignation since it became effective on New Year’s Eve. She had nearly two years left in her most recent four-year contract, which was set to expire in October 2011.
Hamamoto made her comments to The Advertiser before addressing the rest of the Honolulu media at a press conference this afternoon at the state Department of Education building on Miller Street.
Hamamoto said the challenges the school system currently faces were not part of her decision to step aside.
“I was here for all the other budget cuts, for Felix, No Child Left Behind. I walked out of court in contempt under Felix. If there was ever a time to quit, that’s when you would have quit,” Hamamoto said. “It’s a very personal decision about what I want to do with the next phase of my life.”
Hamamoto’s departure comes as the public school system is in the throes of unprecedented budget cuts that led to furloughs of school teachers and the shortest instructional calendar in the country.
Hamamoto submitted her letter of resignation on Dec. 28, the same day Gov. Linda Lingle rejected a tentative agreement between the DOE and the Hawaii State Teachers Association that would have used $35 million from the state’s rainy-day emergency fund to reduce the remaining furlough Fridays for the current school year.
Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.