Hawaii Legislature wants to raise salary caps for top executives in Department of Education despite budget constraints
To address an estimated state budget shortfall of more than $1.3 billion over the current fiscal biennium, the Department of Education (DOE) is in the process of closing down schools, explaining to the public that such steps will save a few hundred thousand dollars per school.
But just as children are being banished from their neighborhood schools, the Legislature is proposing Senate Bill 605, which would establish 2 new senior deputy superintendent positions, to be paid up to 90 percent of the superintendent’s $150,000 per year salary. The bill would also lift the salary cap for all assistant and complex area superintendents from 80 percent to 90 percent of the superintendent’s pay.
The purpose, as stated in the bill, is to “reinvent government” and make it more efficient.
The senior deputy superintendent for academic achievement would oversee the “Academic Achievement Division.”
The senior deputy superintendent for administration would oversee the administration division.
The Board of Education (BOE) would “delegate the duties and functions of the department to the Academic and Administrative divisions.”
Although a 2010 Hawaii state constitutional amendment created a governor-appointed vs. elected Board, Article X, Section 3 of the Constitution states that the board “shall appoint the superintendent of education as the chief executive officer of the public school system.”
As the bill is written, the superintendent of schools would now be an advisor to the board.
The only testimony received was from Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, in which she claims that this bill will “improve the Superintendent’s management capacity.”
The move to divide the DOE into 2 divisions is the result of the Race to the Top grant proposal, which garnered $75 million for the DOE.
Although the federal grant provided the state with a one-time windfall, the Legislature must now find the taxpayer funds to sustain this increased cost of state government.
To see the status of SB605, which has been referred to the House Finance Committee, go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/bills/SB605_HD1_.htm
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