Thursday, December 17, 2020

*The Board did not meet at a physical location. As part of the response to the threat of COVID-19, Governor David Ige issued a Sixteenth Supplementary Proclamation dated November 23, 2020, suspending Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 92, Public Agency Meetings and Records, to the extent necessary to enable boards as defined in Section 92-2, to conduct meetings without any board members or members of the public physically present in the same location, among other things.

Dwight Takeno, Chairperson
Kaimana Barcarse, Vice Chairperson
Lynn Fallin
Kili Namauʻu
Catherine Payne
Kenneth Uemura
Bruce Voss

Margaret Cox

Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent
Phyllis Unebasami, Deputy Superintendent
Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management
Alison Kunishige, Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
Regina Pascua, Executive Secretary
Lady Garrett, Secretary

  1. Call to Order

Committee Chairperson Dwight Takeno called the Human Resources Committee Meeting to order at 9:34 a.m.

II. Public testimony on Human Resources Committee (“Committee”) agenda items

Committee Chairperson Takeno called for public testimony. The following people provided remote oral testimony.

Agenda Item
Corey RosenleeHawaii State Teachers AssociationIII.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
Cheri NakamuraHE‘E CoalitionIII.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

Corey Rosenlee, Hawaii State Teachers Association (“HSTA”) President testified on the Department of Education’s (“Department”) reorganization plan for state office positions. He appreciates the specificity put forth relating to the State office. As schools are putting together their academic plans he would like the same level of specificity at the school level presentation. By just saying 10 percent cuts to the weighted student formula (“WSF”) and 9 percent cuts to special education, it does not give the clear picture of the impact at the school level. He stated that the Department would gain support from the public to try and increase education funding if they are aware that electives in Hawaiian studies and immersion may be cut or that they may lose services for special education.

Cheri Nakamura, Hui for Excellence in Education (“HE‘E”) Coalition Executive Director, testified on the Department’s reorganization plan for state office positions. She appreciates the detailed information on state level reductions and impacts; however, what is most critical is the impact of these reductions at the school level. It would have been preferred that the Department included school and complex level information prior to formulating their plan for the fiscal biennium (“FB”) 2021-2023 request. She stated that it would make more sense to know the priorities at the school level first where the teaching and learning is occurring and then align those priorities at the complex and state levels instead of the reverse.

Board Executive Secretary Regina Pascua called on Kapua Medeiros, there was no response. Kapua Medeiros did not provide oral testimony.
Committee members received written testimony. The following is a listing of the people who submitted written testimony before the meeting.

Agenda Item
Corey RosenleeHawaii State Teachers AssociationIII.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
Cheri NakamuraHE‘E CoalitionIII.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
Angie MarianoPublic III.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

III. Discussion Items
Committee Chairperson Takeno called on Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent (“AS”), Office of Talent Management, to present the Department of Education’s (“Department”) reorganization plan to preserve classroom instruction. Covell introduced Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent, to provide the key points.

Covell thanked the Human Resources Committee (“Committee”) for the opportunity to discuss the proposed state level cuts. She agrees with the testimony shared by HSTA that the school level cuts need to be put forward so we can look at this together. The Department was not able to include the school level details at this time in order to give the schools and its Principals enough time to make some hard decisions. As mentioned previously by Superintendent Kishimoto during the Finance and Infrastructure Committee meeting the Department will come back with a presentation on the state and complex level details in January. She stated that following the presentation on December 3, 2020, a request was made to provide additional information and details for the state level. Covell explained that when Superintendent Kishimoto first arrived the Department conducted a reorganization to align into seven areas to do the core work of the organization and each time a reorganization is done the Department will present to the Committee and then full Board before changes are made to the organizational chart. The Department expects to bring additional reorganization requests for approval over the next few months to the Board.
Covell stated that the input includes sub-committee discussions; it was not just the AS’ determining the cuts others were involved and there was review and feedback. The recommendations take into account the implications of the program reductions to the following: (1) students; (2) compliance with federal and state laws; (3) Board Policies with Department regulations; (4) Collective Bargaining Agreements; and, (5) to avoid transferring State level work to complexes or schools. The details are provided by each office by full-time equivalent (“FTE”) positions and the associated general fund budget of that office, the pass through, functional statements by program, and the impact of current and future reductions. Covell stated that all Department AS’ are online to answer questions and the school level details will be provided in January.
Board Member Kenneth Uemura shared his perspective and why the topic is important and how the Department will meet the challenge to educate students during the pandemic as follows: (1) there is a possibility that further reductions may come after Legislative review, the Board should be concerned about the ability of meeting its core mission of teaching and learning to ensure equity of educating children; (2) commend Human Resources Committee Chairperson Takeno for his foresight on placing this item on the agenda to preserve classroom instruction; and, (3) the timing of this discussion is relevant to the Board as it needs a front forward look on how the Superintendent will reorganize the Department anticipating that things will not be the same. He stated that we cannot only explain away the reductions and its impact while students are severely impacted. In his opinion, the Department should be proactive and not reactive since the pandemic has caused many organizations to assess and streamline operations and to see if things can be done better and the Board should expect nothing less. He anticipates a leaner more efficient organization that can rise to the challenge of preserving teaching and learning. In summary, he stated that the Board should expect to see a forward thinking education model to incorporate reductions and a reorganization plan that will ensure the coordination of teaching and learning equity is met. He noted that the meeting material does not address the reorganization plan and he would like an agenda action item on a future agenda.
Board Member Bruce Voss commended the Department for the attachment and the work that went into the presentation. He appreciates including details on the impacts and additional cuts and shows that every single cut will hurt students which needs to be conveyed to the public. He agrees with comments from HSTA that school level information needs to be included and would like to see a high level of detail in terms of the numbers of positions at the complexes within the schools and the specific programs that are going to be affected at the school. He also would like to caution that the details being provided are not so specific that it would implicate specific employees subject to the reductions. He asked what information will be provided to the Board for the upcoming presentation after the financial plans are completed.
Covell stated that she will pattern the presentation similar to what they did with the state offices, and explained that there is a format with financial plans that does not fit into this format. She stated that the Department will include position information and typically in March a reduction in force recommendation is provided based on the workload changes. Covell stated cuts that need to be made due to the budget reductions. She welcomes feedback but this is the level of detail to be presented of the impacts at the school and complex levels.
Board Member Voss stated that with school financial plans being completed at the end of the month we need the school level information by January as the legislative session starts in the third week. He asked what it means by the document will evolve and if this ties into the reorganization to continue to address the proposed cuts.
Superintendent Kishimoto replied that work will be continued to streamline the state office as approved in the past by the Board. The seven offices representing central areas of work of a State Educational Agency (“SEA”) that also carries Local Educational Agency (“LEA”) responsibilities under federal law are related to curriculum, assessment, and accountability. The Department already reorganized around those central areas and we will look at reducing those seven essential areas to the extent possible without pushing work to the school and complex level. Kishimoto stated that work will continue and there are two significant reorganization areas determined prior to the budget and health crisis as follows: (1) Office of School Facilities and (2) Information Technology. Kishimoto stated that their reorganizations are due to modernization on how we deliver services as a business and education function. She also stated that the Department needs to be careful to meet the law and both State and Federal requirements.
Board Member Voss encourages the Department to continue to provide information to Legislators on a continuing basis.
Board Member Kaimana Barcarse asked decisions were made about the $3.2 million reduction for Hawaiian Language Immersion and Hawaiian Studies. Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami replied any cut will be significant and when looking at the ten percent budget reduction much of the money is considered a portion of administrative duties. Unebasami stated that for example, in Hawaiian studies we are in a unique position because the request for more Hawaiian immersion education is increasing with waitlists but to meet the budget reduction request it was not that we did not value Hawaiian immersion it was just a matter of needing to make the those cuts.
Board Member Barcarse understands that we need to make the cuts, however, he does not fully understand how or why it came down to that amount. He stated that he hears clearly that cuts needed to be made. He also stated that during the process you mentioned that you spoke with the Office of Hawaiian Education (“OHE”) who suggested these areas since it would not be as detrimental as other cuts.
Unebasami replied the work they are doing is significant including transient interpretation of core subject areas so that students can participate in virtual learning. She also stated that the conversation was painful but it was in the team’s hands because they know which things need to be prioritized. Board Member Barcarse emphasized that input was given and this is how the recommendation came to be.
Board Member Lynn Fallin stated that the materials provided were detailed and helpful in understanding the process, the cuts, and the impact by each state office. She stated that it is difficult in looking at the materials to see the role of the complex and it would be helpful to understand each office with a detailed summary of roles and responsibilities. She requested information on the roles of the complex and how it delivers services organizationally and budgetarily when the school planning details are provided in the future. She also requested to look at any major business processes that will come about as a result of consolidation and reorganization in tandem. Kishimoto replied that descriptions of the role for the complex area will be included for school level data forthcoming in January. Kishimoto noted that the detailed descriptions have been very helpful with the conversations with members of the public.
Board Member Kili Namauʻu thanked everyone for the additional information and she appreciates everyone’s work. She stated that when moving forward with the academic and financial plans from individual schools, it is important to convey to the public what these cuts will mean. She would like to know exactly what the intentions are for next school year from schools because she is hearing from teachers that are scared and worried that their position will not be around next year. She is hoping for a presentation that is specific on what kinds of course work will be eliminated and how this will impact students directly. She stated that we need to be clear with the public so they understand what is happening in our schools to get the public to support us. She suggested another column with more specifics to present to Legislators on what is happening in their specific schools and districts and would like an understanding that there has been a deficit from the beginning. She stated that there needs to be more funding for public education if we want students to get ahead in this world.

Superintendent Kishimoto reiterated that she agrees detailed data is critical and this is a good point to be able to advocate clearly to our legislators about the real impacts. She likes the idea of adding a column with specific area information and the Department will work through this in the most supportive way possible and with the greatest clarity.
Board Member Kili Namauʻu stated that the testimonies reflect people are worried and dealing with high end emotions especially given they are already dealing with Covid-19 and pivoting for reopening schools. She stated that people are continually adjusting and working to make things happen and everyone is overworked. She acknowledges the unfortunate situation statewide with our budgets; however, wants everyone to understand that we have always been in a deficit and we need to start thinking about other ways of generating income that will go directly to supporting public education in our state.
Committee Chairperson Takeno stated that the presentation provides the baseline and current picture of the state office functions. He agrees with testimony submitted by HE‘E Coalition that the review should have been done bottom up versus top down. He stated that this needs to be ongoing to preserve instruction and the negative impact occurring at the schools. The Human Resources Committee will revisit and look at the complex and state office for another review and he is expecting a forward thinking model to deliver our core mission in the years to come. He would like updates so we know the Department is diligently working on its reorganization model. He anticipates by February updates and plans to have Committee meetings to receive these updates. He stated this is the expectation and needs to happen especially the legislative session starting. Kishimoto replied that the Department will work with the Board on the next level of work.
Committee Chairperson Takeno asked if there are proposed reorganization plans in progress with applicable unions regarding cuts and restructuring. Kishimoto replied the Department will be getting ready to share with unions. Committee Chairperson Takeno asked if the information will be ready for January. Kishimoto replied that the information will not be ready however, she will get back to Chair on when this can be provided.
Committee Chairperson Takeno stated that it is a challenging time and will be uncomfortable, however it is important to be proactive since things are evolving.

IV. Adjournment

Committee Chairperson Takeno adjourned the meeting at 10:31 a.m.