Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent
Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management
Alison Kunishige, Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
Regina Pascua, Executive Secretary
Lady Garrett, Secretary
II. Discussion Items
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified in opposition to the Department of Education’s (“Department”) reorganization plan because the Board of Education (“Board”) will be hiring a new superintendent and suggested postponing further action. She stated that the Department’s presentation identified nine key factors; however, the presentation does not show how the Department is using these factors to improve. She asked the Board to consider holding off on the reorganization it selects a new Superintendent.
Committee Chairperson Takeno called on Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Talent Management (“OTM”), to present the Department’s reorganization plan to preserve classroom instruction.
Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent, stated that since 2007 the Department has engaged in a strategic reorganization with the following design goals: (1) student-centered design based on equity of access; (2) quality of performance standards; (3) quality supports for schools; (4) modernized business systems and functions; and, (5) shared tri-level empowerment and accountability. She explained that on September 19, 2017, she presented the Department’s strategic implementation plan goals to the Board, which were aligned with the Board and Department’s joint strategic plan. Kishimoto also explained that on May 17, 2018, she presented the Department’s plan to reorganize leadership at the Deputy Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent (“AS”) levels.
Kishimoto stated that the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design (“OCID”) was redesigned to advance innovative and equitable instructional design with a focus on setting state standards for quality curriculum. She also stated that the Board approved the separation of the Office of Curriculum and Student Support (“OCISS”) into two offices, the Office of Student Support Services (“OSSS”) and the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design. She stated that OSSS focused on special education, English learners, and alternative learners, which has improved services and received positive feedback. She stated that the former Office of Human Resources was renamed OTM with a talent management approach that focused on talent acquisition, talent development, and talent retention. Kishimoto also stated that the Civil Rights Compliance Office (renamed as the Civil Rights Compliance Branch) was realigned so that it was under OTM instead of the Office of the Superintendent. Kishimoto further explained that on January 18, 2018, the Board approved renaming the Office of School Facilities and Support Services to the Office of Facilities and Operations (“OFO”) and that she reorganized the student transportation branch to improve functions. She stated that on February 21, 2019, the Board was presented with the reorganization of the facilities maintenance branch to recruit qualified personnel to fill vacant positions. Kishimoto also stated that in April 2019, the Department presented to the Board the “playground concept,” which was a five-year technology plan which included a large scale reorganization of the Office of Information and Technology Services (“OITS”) to focus on the classroom learning experience and modernization of enterprise systems. She noted that the Department’s needs continue to evolve and she asked Covell to talk about organizational impacts and forward facing priorities.
Covell stated that the reorganization plan is about re-strategizing and that during the Committee’s January 2021 meeting the Department was asked to talk about the reorganization plan, where the Department was, and the impacts and overall objectives going forward. She highlighted a number of reorganizations over the last couple of years. Covell detailed splitting OCISS in 2018 into two separate offices, OCID and OSSS. She explained that the results of this split have been outstanding in terms of oversight because OCID has helped with distance learning, extracurricular programs, and has focused on curriculum. Covell stated that at the same time, OSSS has been able to scale up inclusive practices to increase the number of special needs students being educated with their peers, increase Medicaid reimbursements, and created the YES Project (a mobile outreach system for students in unstable housing) She detailed that the reorganization of student transportation is the first phase of the OFO reorganization.
Covell stated the Office of Fiscal Services accounting branch reorganization was presented to the Board and would be the first reorganization that she would recommend for Board approval to allow the accounting branch to focus on functions it is already doing now as well as the financial management services modernization project.
Covell detailed that the Department plans on proceeding with a number of reorganization plans. She detailed OTM’s plans to consolidate three director positions into one position for labor relations, negotiations and investigations. Covell also detailed the OITS five-year plan designed to support schools and its work with the legislature on the Department’s budget and how it will affect plans going forward. She described OFO’s formation of a committee to review the Council of Great City Schools study and feedback and how the office will interact with the new school facilities agency. Covell detailed that the Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance (“OSIP”) will continue to review programs and tri-level organization to support complexes with data. She stated that OSID has no imminent reorganization plans but will continue its work on distance learning platforms and design and that OSSS plans to move Medicaid reimbursements, English Learners, and alternative learner programs into their own branches.
Committee Member Catherine Payne stated that she recognized that priorities are changing every day and appreciated everyone’s willingness to adjust. She noted her concerns regarding the legislature’s decisions about the Department’s budget and that the Board was surprised that the legislature undertook its own reorganization. Committee Member Payne asked if it would be better for the Board to wait to see the final budget and if the legislature is removing state level functions as indicated in earlier discussions.
Covell stated that the Department is in ongoing discussions with key legislators regarding this concern and Complex Area Superintendents (“CAS”) expressed caution to legislators not to rush into decisions. She expressed her support for the suggestion to wait on the final budget to see if the Department’s plans still fit into the new budget and make sense going forward.
Kishimoto noted that the Department has provided feedback on the legislature’s budgetary decisions, which could detrimentally impact federal funding by moving functions and requirements under law for a State Educational Agencies (“SEA”) and Local Educational Agencies (“LEA”) roles and responsibilities.
Committee Member Bruce Voss expressed concerns with the Hawaii State Senate’s version of the state budget, which eliminated OSIP and OITS from the Department. He asked if the Senate’s proposed budget is accepted by the Hawaii State House of Representatives, how this will impact the Department’s proposed reorganizations and pending plans.
Kishimoto stated that because the Department and Board must follow federal laws on data reporting, annual data reporting, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”) reporting, accountability for federal relief funds, and programmatic accountability for those schools performing in the lowest five percent. She stated that OSIP does a lot of the work relating to these responsibilities and if OSIP is eliminated from the Department’s budget, the Department and Board are still accountable for those functions.
Committee Member Voss agreed that if the House accepts the Senate version, there would be negative consequences. He asked if legislators consulted with the Department before passing the legislation that effectively eliminated OSIP and OITS. Kishimoto replied that the Department was surprised when budget sheets were released.
Committee Member Voss noted that the Senate’s proposed actions preempts the Department and Board’s role to oversee and establish Department organization.
Committee Member Lynn Fallin stated that the Senate is looking at reorganizing tri-level roles and responsibilities shifting positions at the state level to the complex area level. She asked whether the Department’s proposed reorganization clarifies roles and responsibilities for each of the three levels (school, complex area, and state).
Kishimoto replied the Department is working on definitions for each of the tri-levels. She stated that her focus over the past few years was on streamlining what is in the state office and ensuring that decisions are made primarily at the school and complex area levels. Kishimoto explained the state level’s role is to focus on standard setting, ensuring quality, and providing quality support for complex areas and schools. She stated that the Department uses a definition for tri-level leadership and increasingly pushed entitlement funds to the school and complex area to keep oversight and accountability at the state office level and to keep innovation and design at the school levels. Kishimoto noted that the tri-level definition focuses on state and complex area roles; however, the legislature’s recommendation has been to take a different direction and moved some functions from the state level to the complex area level. She stated that the complex area level focus on coaching, quality and support, whereas the state level has centralized efficiencies for services like student transportation. Kishimoto shared that Senate Ways and Means Committee members have provided the Department with feedback on what they did and why.
Committee Member Fallin stated that there is a gap between the timing and focus and would like the Department to describe where it is at and what it intends to do for the remainder of this year further delineating the roles and responsibilities of CASs. She stated that the presentation focuses on state level offices but it is not clear about the mid-level or complex area and she would like to know if there is specific information relating to these reorganization efforts.
Board Member Fallin stated that Kishimoto explained that her focus was to streamline state level offices so that they provide good support to schools so that the schools can innovate while the state office focuses on standards. She explained the Department is in the middle of a significant leadership transition and that she has shared many ideas about things to focus on such as school design and instructional quality, management and oversight, and improving state level support. Kishimoto stated that next steps would be where the Board wants to go to validate ideas from the complex area, balance the legislature’s requests, and come to an agreement on the governance structure of the Department.
Committee Member Fallin stated the presentation focused on efficiency and she suggested incorporating effectiveness because this relates to accountability. She also expressed appreciation that Medicaid reimbursement is being worked on and she looks forward to looking at ways to increase and maximize revenues.
Committee Member Kenneth Uemura stated that he is still unable to grasp what the reorganization plan is although the presentation answered some of his questions. He expressed agreement that this is a governance issue within the Department and that more discussion is needed with further detail, Committee Member Kenneth Uemura further stated that the Committee has discussed the agenda item several times at this point, but the Department has failed to provide enough information on the complex area and school levels. He recommended deferral of any future agenda items on the Department’s reorganization until the Board selects a new superintendent.
Committee Member Payne stated that the memorandum was written before the Board and Department found out that the legislature proposed reorganizing the Department, which was completely unexpected. She expressed concern that the legislature is justifying its reorganization proposal with empowerment and moving decisions closer to the school level. Committee Member Payne stated that certain duties should be handled at the state level so schools can focus on the core mission of supporting learning. She asked if the Department could share whether there has been any communication from the legislature and feedback after hearing concerns from CASs and the leadership team. Kishimoto replied that legislators have made themselves available to discuss the impacts of their proposal and the Department’s concerns regarding timing. She stated there is a process to develop an engaged plan and no group should be overlooked.
Committee Member Payne asked if legislators shared why they did this without discussing this with the Department and Board until the state budget was near completion. She asked if legislators shared why they did this in this manner. Kishimoto replied she could not speak for legislators in terms of their thinking but that the Department has been focused on slowing down or trying to prevent these actions. Committee Member Payne noted the Board cannot move forward unless there is understanding of the rationale for these unprecedented actions.
Committee Member Kili Namauʻu expressed concern over legislative actions especially for offices that the legislature has marked for elimination. She also expressed concern over positions being moved from the state level to the complex area level and asked whether it is efficient for CASs to take on the additional responsibilities. Committee Member Namauʻu stated that on neighbor islands there are issues with finding adequate living accommodations and she is not sure the Department can attract the appropriate talent to neighbor islands. She asked how the schools and students would be impacted by the elimination of OITS. Kishimoto stated that creating a separate office is not as simple as it sounds and there are a number of challenges. She explained that the OITS team does not work in isolation from the rest of the Department. Kishimoto stated that teaching and learning will be affected since there is specialized work around educational technology but the Department needs to be clear on what stays and requires capacity and expertise for learning.
Committee Chairperson Takeno stated that due to external events transpiring before the posting of the memorandum, the Committee would defer this discussion to a later date.
III. Recommendation for Action
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified in opposition to compensation adjustments and the source of funds. She testified that the Department’s memorandum does not provide enough information, that the legislature is still debating the budget, and since leadership performance is not measurable right now, the Department cannot say these employees are deserving of the compensation adjustment.
Cheri Nakamura, HE‘E Coalition, testified in opposition to a compensation adjustment for the Department’s leadership at this time because of the uncertainty of the state’s budget and a lack of clarity and transparency on the performance evaluation process, which is based on a strategic plan, but does not specify what document the Department is referencing. She noted that if the evaluations refer to the Department’s Promise Plan, the Board did not approve this plan.
Committee Chairperson Takeno called on Covell to present the Department’s recommendation on the methodology for compensation adjustments for Department leadership employees. Covell stated that the Department’s recommendation for compensation adjustments or leadership positions covers a period from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. She explained that the Department typically presents its recommendation to the Board in September, but it did not do so this year because the Department was focused on reopening schools safely. She noted that, if approved the adjustment would be retroactive to July 1, 2020 and that the funding to implement this adjustment would be no more than $70,000, which would come out of the current year’s budget. She explained that five out of eight Assistant Superintendents (“AS”) and thirteen out of fifteen CASs are eligible for compensation adjustments.
Committee Member Payne moved to approve (1) the use of funds in an amount not to exceed $70,000 for executive compensation adjustments for the Deputy Superintendent, ASs, and CASs, effective July 1, 2020; and (2) the compensation adjustments and proposed methodology using performance evaluation ratings for School Year 2019-2020 and the percentage increase tied to the consumer price index for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, as described in Kishimoto’s April 15, 2021 memorandum. Committee Member Voss seconded.
Committee Member Payne reminded the Committee that it is important to keep in mind the optics and community concern with pay raises for those in positions of higher office and authority, and that the real issue is attracting qualified candidates to consider the Department’s leadership positions. Committee Member Voss stated that he understood the optics shared by Committee Member Payne, but recalled that teachers received a 3.5 percent compensation increase and that Department leadership worked 12-14 hours a day during the COVID-19 emergency. He stated if AS and CAS positions are not rewarded the Board will not have the ability to attract candidates with the necessary skillsets to do these jobs.
Committee Member Fallin expressed appreciation for the CASs and the Department leadership team. She stated that the Board wants to attract high quality, passionate individuals who are committed to education. Committee Member Fallin, however, expressed concern over approving a long-term commitment during the middle of legislative session in a year where the State’s budget is certain. She stated that the Board has decided to fund differentials without legislative approval and since the legislature has not finalized the Department’s budget, she would like to defer action until the Department’s budget is final. Committee Member Fallin expressed appreciation for the hard work but noted the Board needs to consider greater implications.
Kishimoto stated that if action is delayed, then Department leadership will be two years behind in performance pay and that this group is already the last to receive compensation adjustments as all other groups have been compensated based on the Board approved structure from September 2019. She stated that the Department should be paying its leadership team based on what the Board already promised, although the optics need to be recognized.
Committee Chairperson Takeno called for a roll call vote on the motion. The motion carried with Committee Vice Chairperson Kaimana Barcarse, Committee Members Cox, Namauʻu, Payne, and Voss voting aye and Committee Chairperson Takeno, Committee Members Fallin, and Uemura voting nay.
ACTION: Motion to approve (1) the use of funds in an amount not to exceed $70,000 for executive compensation adjustments for the Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents, and Complex Area Superintendents, effective July 1, 2020; and (2) the compensation adjustments and proposed methodology using performance evaluation ratings for School Year 2019-2020 and the percentage increase tied to the consumer price index for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, as described in Christina Kishimoto’s April 15, 2021 memorandum (Payne/Voss). The motion carried with five members voting aye and three members voting nay.
IV. Late Public Testimony on Board Agenda Items
Committee Chairperson Takeno called for public testimony from any individuals who did not have an opportunity to testify on earlier agenda items. No one provided oral testimony at this time.
Committee members received written testimony before the meeting. The following is a listing of the people who submitted written testimony before the meeting.
|From: (Name)||Organization||Agenda Item|
|Spencer Gill||III. A. Committee Action on methodology for compensation adjustments for Department of Education leadership employees (Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents, and Complex Area Superintendents) Leadership compensation adjustment, projected amount of funds required for adjustments, and source of funds for adjustments|
|Nolan Alexander||III. A. Committee Action on methodology for compensation adjustments for Department of Education leadership employees (Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents, and Complex Area Superintendents) Leadership compensation adjustment, projected amount of funds required for adjustments, and source of funds for adjustments|
|Warren Hyde||III. A. Committee Action on methodology for compensation adjustments for Department of Education leadership employees (Deputy Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents, and Complex Area Superintendents) Leadership compensation adjustment, projected amount of funds required for adjustments, and source of funds for adjustments|
|Susan Pcola-Davis||II. A. Presentation on Department of Education's reorganization plan to preserve classroom instruction: temporary or permanent closure, consolidations, reorganization, restructuring, or merger of offices, programs, services, and positions for State Office, Complex Area, and School Levels|
Committee Chairperson Takeno adjourned the meeting at 10:58 a.m.