STATE OF HAWAII
BOARD OF EDUCATION
HUMAN RESOURCES COMMITTEE
Queen Liliuokalani Building
1390 Miller Street, Room 404
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Thursday, January 16, 2020
Dwight Takeno, Committee Chairperson
Kaimana Barcarse, Committee Vice Chairperson
Brian De Lima, Esq.
Bruce Voss, Esq.
Nolan Kawano, Ex Officio
Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent
Phyllis Unebasami, Deputy Superintendent
Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management
Paul Zina, Principal,ʻEleʻele Elementary School
Randall Tanaka, Deputy Director, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Alison Kunishige, Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
Regina Pascua, Executive Secretary
Irina Dana, Secretary
I. Call to Order
The Human Resources Committee (“Committee”) meeting was called to order by Committee Chairperson Dwight Takeno at 9:30 a.m.
II. *Public testimony on Human Resources Committee (“Committee”) agenda items
Committee Chairperson Takeno called for public testimony. There was no public testimony at this time.
III. Approval of Meeting Minutes of November 21, 2019
ACTION: Motion to approve the Human Resources Committee Meeting minutes of November 21, 2019 (Uemura/Barcarse). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
IV. Recommendation for Action
Phyllis Unebasami, Deputy Superintendent, introduced Paul Zina, Principal,ʻEleʻele Elementary School. She stated that the Department of Education (“Department”) is recommending the Committee approve the appointment of Zina to Complex Area Superintendent (“CAS”) for the Kapaa-Kauai-Waimea Complex Area.
A. Committee Action on recommendation concerning appointment of the Complex Area Superintendent for the Kapaa-Kauai-Waimea Complex Area
Unebasami reviewed the Department’s hiring process. She detailed that in the summer of last year the current CAS informed the Department that he intended to retire at the end of the school year. Upon learning this information, the Department created an inclusive process that would ensure that the complex area focused on the path moving forward, as identified in the Department’s 2020-2030 Strategic Plan and five promises. She highlighted that the Department spoke with key leaders who would work closely with the incoming CAS. On October 16, 2019, Unebasami and Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent, met with principals in the complex area to discuss their expectations and desired attributes of an incoming CAS. She highlighted that the Department focused on listening to the expectations and needs of students, families, and staff, and compiled the information it received.
Unebasami stated that on October 31, 2019, she and Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management, spoke with key leaders within the complex area and focused on listening to their ideas, current projects, and priorities. She detailed that the Department compiled a list of expectations based on these conversations and prioritized these expectations by reviewing different points of views, such as where there was agreement and where there were unique features. Unebasami highlighted that each group provided the Department with questions to ask of candidates in order to discern which candidate would be the best fit. She highlighted that the Department created a screening committee comprised of stakeholders, including community members, principals, and CASs.
Unebasami detailed that the Department interviewed six candidates and decided on Zina as a finalist. She stated that the two finalists met with Kishimoto and community members. Kishimoto identified Zina as the leading candidate based on his attributes and ways in which he met the community’s expectations. She stated that Kishimoto visited Kauai again to engage in discussions with community leaders, such as the mayor and others, regarding Kauai’s wants and needs. Unebasami detailed that Zina met with CASs and the complex area team and highlighted that his candidacy was widely supported.
Committee Member Kenneth Uemura commended the Department’s explanation of its hiring process. He noted that the Department neglected to include this information in previous CAS recommendations. Committee Member Uemura asked for additional information regarding the complex area, such as the background of the complex area, the number of schools in the complex area, the types of schools, the complex area’s total budget, and the complex area’s critical needs.
Unebasami stated that she did not currently have accurate data and the Department would need to provide this information at a later time. Kishimoto clarified that that there were 17 schools in the complex area, including a community adult school. She stated that it is important for the Department to continue to grow its adult schools and commented that the Board of Education previously indicated interest in adult education. Kishimoto stated that principals and community members were interested in a strong leader with a strong instructional and curriculum background who understands how to work with others to align the kindergarten through twelfth grade continuum as an island-wide community to have a strong curriculum support structure.
Kishimoto detailed the complex area was focused on ensuring that its staff was organized and that positions focused primarily on instructional supports, including supports related to special education access. She stated that the complex area is building knowledge regarding the concept of school design and supporting an empowerment structure. Kishimoto detailed that with empowerment comes school-level accountability. She highlighted that Zina, in his role as principal, and the complex area team have been working in a cohesive manner. She stated that Kauai has a close-knit community. Kishimoto stated that the Department took into consideration that Kauai would have a new CAS, fire chief, and mayor. She stated that there is new leadership on Kauai and conversation regarding a collective and cohesive commitment to work together and what educational quality should look like.
Kishimoto stated that the community is engaging in discussions and supporting the candidacy of an individual who has deep knowledge of Kauai while simultaneously thinking about new ways in which to foster excellent schools. Kishimoto emphasized the importance of a candidate who understands the complexities of environmental impacts and is able to work across agencies to ensure that public work projects are completed in a timely manner and communities are informed. She stated that she has received feedback from the mayor’s office and other community members regarding supporting this level of work.
Committee Member Margaret Cox moved to approve the appointment of Paul Zina as CAS for the Kapaa-Kauai-Waimea Complex Area. Committee Member Brian De Lima seconded.
Committee Member Uemura commented that he asked for more information regarding the complex area. He stated that the Department did not answer his question but provided different answers as to why the Department was seeking a specific candidate and described issues in Kauai. He stated that he would like more information regarding the complex area. Unebasami stated that the Department could provide information regarding focus areas that would be transmitted from the current CAS to the incoming CAS.
Committee Member Uemura asked if these focus areas fall under identified critical needs. He asked for more information regarding the complex area’s critical needs. Committee Member Uemura explained that he is interested in how the complex area compares to other complex areas in terms of size and responsibility. He stated that it is important for the Department to provide this information because it provides the Committee with necessary background information to make a decision. He emphasized the importance of the Department being able to communicate the critical needs of complex areas.
Committee Member Uemura asked about the Department’s position description. He asked if the Department addressed the position description in its memorandum or if the position description requires candidates to possess programmatic leadership and good communication skills. Committee Member Uemura emphasized the importance of the Department including the position description in its meeting materials so that the Committee could review whether the candidate’s resume aligns with the qualifications. He stated that it is the Committee’s responsibility to provide oversight and the Committee is unable to do so if the Department neglects to provide information. Committee Member Uemura commented that the quality of the Department’s information has improved since the last recommended appointment it brought to the Committee.
Unebasami stated that the Department refreshed its job description the year that Kishimoto and she were appointed. She stated that the Department could share the job description for the CAS position with the Committee. Unebasami noted that the Department highlighted several descriptors from the job description in its memorandum to the Committee. Unebasami detailed that the complex area’s inclusion rates are above the state average and schools have met inclusion rate targets set by the Board. However, proficiency rates have not shown an increase.
Unebasami stated that the Department sought a candidate who was an instructional leader and who could review strategies, especially for vulnerable learners. She noted that it was important to find a candidate who could engage families, especially on an island where relationships are important, and who had the ability to implement systems and processes that allow families to advocate for their children and allow teachers to collaborate around unique designs of curriculum instruction. She noted that what the complex area currently has in place is not producing results. Unebasami stated that it is important for the candidate to know how to do quality assurance around quality design, understand evidence-based practices, and support vulnerable learners. It is also important for the candidate to possess the skillset to harness the potential and talent of leaders and teachers to gain an effort and commitment that says that vulnerable learners are important.
Committee Member Uemura asked about the Department’s interview questions and asked the Department to align Zina’s resume to its desired attributes and requirements.
Kishimoto explained that the Department does not post its interview questions publicly. She noted that the questions are related to leadership, instructional leadership, student outcomes, capacity development, professional development, system development, and community engagement. Unebasami added that the Department asked questions about setting direction, monitoring direction, and making course corrections as needed. She noted that the Department asked about feedback loops that would let Zina know if he would need to engage in discussion or set new parameters for expectations. The Department also asked how Zina would utilize the complex area’s assets so that he works with his team to execute plans rather than acting alone. She stated that it takes a team to ensure that students are receiving the education that they deserve.
Committee Member Uemura stated that it is important for the Committee to understand why the Department chose a particular candidate and noted that the information that the Department shared today was not in the Department’s memorandum. He stated that it appears as though Zina has good credentials and answered questions regarding critical needs. He noted that it is important for the Department to communicate this information to the Committee and inform the Committee of what the Department is asking of candidates and what it requires of candidates. He asked the Department to explain how Zina’s resume aligns with the Department’s requirements.
Unebasami emphasized the importance of student outcomes. She explained that the CAS in this complex area would have the responsibility of managing a prekindergarten through twelfth grade system. She stated that the Department asked questions regarding how candidates use their experiences to determine the way in which they would lead a unique complex area. The Department was looking for a candidate’s ability to acknowledge different perspectives, be inclusive even through disagreements, collaborate, communicate, and design. She stated that all of the interview questions fell under these themes. She stated that the Department discussed candidates’ styles of leadership, asked how they would use resources, and asked how they would include communities and families as part of established processes.
Committee Chairperson Takeno commented that full dialogue and discussion is important because the CAS appointment is an important appointment.
Committee Member Kili Namauʻu commended the Department’s hiring process and highlighted that the Department engaged in discussions with the mayor and coordinated with the new fire chief and other new leadership on Kauai. She stated that these efforts are important due to Kauai’s close community. Committee Member Namauʻu stated that she hopes the Department continues this process for other appointments throughout the state. She noted that it might be difficult for the Department to implement a similar process in other areas due to the make-up, demographics, and geographies of particular communities. She stated that it would be helpful for the Department to implement a similar hiring process on Maui. She emphasized the importance of the Department listening to communities, receiving feedback, and approaching a variety of community leaders on different islands. She noted that it might be more difficult for the Department to do so on larger islands with larger populations, but emphasized the importance of the Department recognizing and engaging various communities.
Unebasami stated that the Department has been using this process for some time and did not know that the Committee was interested in this information. She stated that the Department’s relationships with communities start long before the Department is aware of a vacancy to fill. She highlighted Kishimoto’s outreach to influential community leaders who affect school operations and further highlighted that Kishimoto has engaged in public-facing, forward conversations to garner support for public schools. She stated that Kishimoto tasks Unebasami and the Office of Talent Management with ensuring that the hiring process is inclusive and all voices are heard as the Department identifies new leaders. She noted that the Department could improve its communication to the Committee by sharing job descriptions and responses to interview questions.
Kishimoto clarified that she met with the mayor to generally discuss changes occurring in leadership and partnerships. She emphasized that she did not discuss candidates with the mayor. Kishimoto noted that she also did not meet with the fire chief. She stated that her conversations were around island-wide changes. She noted that the mayor is excited about what is occurring within the Department and leadership in Kauai overall. She highlighted that the Department has been engaging in building positive relationships.
Committee Member De Lima asked about Zina’s plans to be an academic leader and asked how he plans to work with principals to ensure that parents and students understand the hard work it takes to be successful in school.
Zina commented that Committee Member De Lima’s question is related to ensuring that the community of Kauai has a balanced idea of what schools are trying to prepare students to become. He stated that he could go into specifics regarding academic strategies, teaching strategies, inclusive practices, and educational jargon, but real conversations give parents confidence. He stated that he needed to provide parents with information regarding what their children could accomplish upon graduation. He stated that these conversations could only occur through strong community partnerships and authentic learning experiences. He detailed that authentic learning experiences provide students with the opportunity to solve community problems through classroom work.
Zina detailed the importance of balancing needs and stated that it begins with one child and one teacher. If he could ensure that a single teacher and student have an authentic learning experience then these experiences could be broadened to a global context. He noted that textbook learning is also important and has its place but highlighted opportunities for students to solve real, community problems specific to their communities. He emphasized the importance of creating partnerships between businesses and schools, career academies, and teaching students soft skills at the middle, high school, and elementary levels to become employable. He noted that what would remain for him to do is to balance preschool experiences that every student could afford. He stated that he could go in many directions but the answer to Committee Member De Lima’s question is authentic learning experiences and community partnerships.
Committee Member De Lima stated that the key to success for students who are struggling is for them to attend school and have self-esteem that they are able to make progress. He commented that Zina’s school’s absenteeism increased from eight percent to ten percent. Committee Member De Lima detailed a study that focused on absenteeism. He stated that the school in the center of the study sent individuals to visit families. After these visits families made more of an effort to ensure that their children attended school. He expressed concern regarding students who are struggling and stated that the Department needed to make additional efforts to ensure that families and students understand that the Department has empathy and is interested in their success. Committee Member De Lima commented that inclusion rates at Zina’s elementary school appear to be low.
Zina commented engaging families could involve telephone calls in addition to home visits. He stated that these efforts could get results for one student but might not be an effective practice for 10,000 students in 17 schools. He stated that he wants to focus on creating reasons for students to not miss school. He emphasized the importance of creating a school system in which practices are inclusive and teacher strategies harness the strength of students and build upon their ability to achieve rather than focus on areas in which students do not perform well. If the Department focuses on strengths it would be able to build upon and include new practices and broaden strengths to be applied in new and meaningful ways.
Zina highlighted the importance of inclusion and inclusive practices. He detailed that inclusion practices in the school setting are meant to level the playing field and eliminate disempowering differences in instruction that can lead to students feeling isolated in the school setting. He detailed ineffective practices and stated that many things need to occur in order to create inclusion in classrooms and implement inclusive practices across the school setting. The best way in which to do so is to create a system in which classroom strategies are high-quality and inclusive of all demographics. He stated that he does not want to isolate a child just because he or she has a specific need. He further emphasized that all students needed to be provided with authentic learning experiences and good teaching practices. This cannot occur unless there are increasing attempts to implement inclusion and ensure that all teachers have the tools that they need. Zina noted that teacher preparation is linked to effective inclusive practices. He emphasized the importance of creating a system in each individual school.
Committee Member De Lima commented that it is important for school leaders, especially CASs, to have empathy for families who are having difficulties and students who are struggling. He stated that it is also important to have a positive can-do attitude and value public schools.
Committee Member Cox stated that high schools are working together well but in some areas she would like to see all three levels working together well, including elementary, middle, and high schools. She stated the end goal for all schools along the kindergarten through twelfth grade continuum should be to graduate all students at the end of twelfth grade. She noted that Zina should focus on addressing a lack of resources at the school level. Committee Member Cox stated that the complex area and schools should review teaching strategies regardless if schools are meeting inclusion rates. Committee Member Cox stated that Zina is moving into a supervisory role where he will be supervising individuals who are also his friends. She asked how he plans to deal with these changes.
Zina stated that he would need to be upfront in his decision making. He stated that every person has to balance the struggle to want to be liked or the struggle to want to be successfully, accomplished, and effective. Zina noted that he would need to be empathetic and tolerant toward different points of views. He detailed his upbringing, his experience as an athlete and wrestler, and noted that he would need to balance various struggles. Zina stated that he understands and abides by rules, policies, and regulations, and has outcomes he attempts to reach. He stated that oftentimes he knows the outcome but individuals attempt to present outcomes in emotional ways rather than in measurable ways using data. Zina stated that he is not originally from Hawaii and was born in a different country. He detailed that he has had to establish relationships in different communities throughout his life and has a broader and wider perspective than many in the school setting expect. Zina stated that he would need to apply different ways of thinking depending on the situation and try to balance being a friend and a boss.
Committee Member Bruce Voss commended Zina’s experience and stated that his work history will provide him with a level of credibility in the position of CAS. Committee Member Voss detailed past issues on Kauai. He stated that Kauai is unique and there is a diversity of opinion as to whether past administrations listened to all voices and addressed longstanding issues in a timely manner. He asked how Zina’s leadership style would differ from what he has seen and experienced over the last five years.
Zina emphasized patience and transparency. He detailed being patient as a child and stated that the ability to be patient might be seen as inaction. He stated that patience is powerful but past administrations might have been too patient which led to a belief of inaction or differing opinions. Zina stated that he would need to increase his expectations in a way in which that would differ from past administrations. He stated that he would need to be impatient in terms of expecting results for certain measurable areas.
Zina stated that there would need to be a level of transparency so that progress is understood. He noted that it can be difficult for individuals to think in a broader system and understand all of the moving parts. He stated that if he is doing his job correctly then all stakeholders in Kauai, including community members, leaders, and school communities, will have opportunities to voice their opinion. He emphasized the importance of providing a voice to individuals who previously did not have a voice. He stated that it would be important for him to be present in communities to understand issues more readily, listen, and openly share his thinking and the systematic processes necessary to solve problems. Zina stated that he understands that he may have to voice unpopular things at times and should not withhold from saying something unpopular. He stated that discussion needed to be an open process where individuals have a voice and feel as though their problems are properly defined, clarified, and solved.
Committee Member Namauʻu commented that she shared an experience at a summit with Zina in Waimea and was impressed. She highlighted that his temperament and demeanor would be well-suited for this position.
ACTION: Motion to approve the appointment of Paul Zina as Complex Area Superintendent for the Kapaa-Kauai-Waimea Complex Area (Cox/De Lima). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management, introduced Randall Tanaka, Deputy Director, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (“DBEDT”) and candidate for position of Assistant Superintendent for the Office of School Facilities and Support Services (“OSFSS”).
A. Committee Action on recommendation concerning appointment of the Assistant Superintendent for the Office of School Facilities and Support Services
Kishimoto detailed that the Department used an external search firm to conduct a national search. The Department was interested in identifying a leader who could review existing structures, have new ideas to improve processes regarding the quality and speed in which the Department addresses facilities demands and presents data, and be able to interact with legislators. The Department vetted candidates through the search firm and involved internal leadership during the interview and recommendation process. She detailed that the Department had conversations with key leaders who the candidate would oversee. The Department also included Board Chairperson Payne as part of the interview process and invited her to sit in, listen in on conversations, and be part of the interview process as the Department narrowed its finalists. Kishimoto noted that the Governor and legislators appointed Tanaka to his position at DBEDT and the Department sought the Governor’s support in releasing him from his position in order to be considered as a candidate.
Kishimoto stated that part of Tanaka’s work at DBEDT involved him reviewing economic development and innovation. She stated that the Department was interested in these attributes. She detailed that the Department was interested in a candidate who could bring new thinking as far as how the Department is structured, how it makes decisions, and how it interacts and engages with the community. She stated that the Department has discussed Act 155, the opportunity for revenue generation, and reinvestment in the school system for years. She stated that it was important for the Department to find a candidate who could review matters from a global, systemic, and innovative perspective. She detailed that the Department was also interested in finding a candidate who had the ability to make difficult decisions, ensure that a leadership structure was in place in OSFSS, and ensure that experts were in the right positions and all positions were filled.
Kishimoto stated that the Department is looking forward to Tanaka’s leadership in terms of modernizing processes and systems and continuing to advance work on school transportation, security, ʻaina pono programs, repair and maintenance (“R&M”), and capital improvement program (“CIP”) projects. She stated that OSFSS has key vacancies and the Department expects that the incoming leader will fill these positions as well as rewrite job descriptions to align with innovation. Kishimoto highlighted that Tanaka has good connections with legislators and further highlighted that the Department has received feedback from legislators. She detailed that the Department is working to advance its connection with legislators and key constituents who are decision makers. She noted that the Department is engaging in a deeper process. Kishimoto stated that the Department is reviewing Act 155, reviewing co-design processes with communities, and reviewing construction. She stated that it is important for the Department to review how to engage the community in the co-design process on a deeper level.
Kishimoto stated that the Department was seeking a candidate who could manage multiple individuals, including multiple leaders and resources. She stated that it is important for the candidate to be able to manage and provide leadership. She noted that the Department was also seeking a candidate who could review and provide new ideas regarding the Department’s organization of its facilities and operations components. She noted that facilities and operations are important components in how the Department conducts its business in support of academics. She stated that buildings are the pride and joy of neighborhoods and it is important for the candidate in this position to be able to manage R&M and CIP funding, maximize funding, deliver on projects in new ways, and learn from best practices in the field. She stated that she needed an individual in her cabinet who would bring change leadership, new thinking, and deep local connections to build up the public will to demand changes and advancements in the Department’s buildings and management of its resources. She stated that these assets should be the strength of the Department’s school districts and highlighted that the Department is recommending the appointment of Tanaka as Assistant Superintendent for OSFSS because it believes he possesses these attributes.
Committee Member Payne moved to approve the appointment of Randall Tanaka as the Assistant Superintendent for OSFSS. Committee Member De Lima seconded.
Committee Member Voss stated that Tanaka’s background is primarily in the visitor industry with an emphasis on sales, marketing, and business development. He stated that one of the biggest challenges related to the position relates to the R&M backlog approaching $1 billion. He asked about Tanaka’s plan to address the backlog in a cost efficient and effective manner.
Tanaka stated that he has been fortunate to network with many individuals in government and private sectors. He stated that he has had conversations with Kishimoto, procurement staff, current Director of Finance of the Department of Budget and Finance and former executive director of the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation Craig Hirai, and a number of key senators and representatives. He noted that half of the individuals whom he spoke with told him congratulations while the other half said condolences upon learning of his candidacy. He stated that he has had discussions with OSFSS staff and was asked why he believed he was qualified for the position. Tanaka stated that he views issues with the R&M backlog fundamentally as logistics issues. He noted that he would need to review how to set the moving parts and establish priorities.
Tanaka detailed that his previous work experience related to tourism but also related to how to get things done. He stated that all of operations reported to him during his time at the Hawaii Convention Center. He noted that the convention center had a CIP program that was relatively small compared to the Department’s. Tanaka highlighted that the first building that was designed was built on-time and under budget. He stated that there were processes in place that allowed him to achieve and noted that he came on board prior to opening pre-construction.
Tanaka stated that in order to address the R&M backlog he would need to work on a system that facilitates the ability to execute projects and identify impediments that slow projects down. He would need to review why these impediments slow down projects and find solutions. He stated that the process keeps moving and does not stop in the design built facility. He stated that organizations do not return to the design phase or other areas that slow projects down. Tanaka highlighted that he hosted the World Conservation Congress and further highlighted that this was the first time it was hosted in the United States. He stated that it was the largest conservation congress in the world. He highlighted that the World Conservation Congress was a global event and detailed that 182 countries attended. He noted that he had to work with the United States Department of State and various embassies. Tanaka detailed that there were many moving parts and things that had to get done. He emphasized the importance of communication.
Ex Officio Committee Member Nolan Kawano entered at 10:29 a.m.
Tanaka emphasized the importance of being strict in following a plan. He detailed that individuals need to stick to plans and communicate with those who help to deliver the product in order to be successful. He stated that he attended hearings at the Legislature and noted that Kishimoto was very methodical when speaking with legislators. He stated that this is the same process he hopes to maintain.
Tanaka stated that tourism is an operations function. He detailed that he ran the Hawaii Convention Center, including buildings, services, and customer programs. He emphasized the importance of reminding himself who he served. He stated that the Department and other organizations serve the community and next generations. Tanaka noted that he had conversations regarding financial and human capital at DBEDT. He detailed that the Department develops human capital in schools. He emphasized the importance of following a plan and stated that he believes he can accomplish reducing the R&M backlog in a more cost efficient and effective manner. He agreed that the task is daunting.
Committee Member Voss expressed concern that the Department has not significantly reduced the R&M backlog in the last two to three years. He commented that the fundamental problems are inefficient systems and lapsed funds. He stated that he expects that the appointee will implement immediate changes and asked about Tanaka’s plans to change systems as soon as reasonably practicable.
Tanaka stated that he would need to speak with the team in place, including the architecture and engineering teams. He stated that it is similar to drafting a football team. He would need to review where the gaps are and which players need to fill those gaps. He stated that he would ask his team why are they not getting things done and what is holding them up. He noted that he would need to have lively discussions with labor unions because labor unions can impede progress and he would need the help of labor unions in order to make shifts. Tanaka stated that he would also need to have discussions with the procurement team. He stated that he has heard that the procurement process is an impediment and would have a discussion with Sarah Allen of the State Procurement Office to discuss impediments. Tanaka stated that he would need to ensure that both internal and external teams have a common goal to achieve and noted that communication is critical. Tanaka stated that he would need to either find a place for those who are not part of them or bench them. He noted that he has high expectations.
Tanaka stated that individuals have been asking him why he wants to join the Department. He stated that he tells them that the worse it gets, the better it gets. He stated that he would achieve something at the Department and has a point to prove. Tanaka highlighted that he has not met a single bad person in the Department and further highlighted that Department employees are trying to do good things. He stated that leaders need to love the people they lead and be part of the process. He stated that he would not ask a subordinate to do work that he himself would not do but he also has to hold his staff accountable for what they should be doing. He stated that it is the staff’s obligation and noted that it is a two-way street. Tanaka stated that this is how he plans to get things done.
Committee Member De Lima agreed that the Department has good employees. He noted that he does not believe that inefficiency is due to staff not doing their work. Committee Member De Lima expressed concern that Tanaka’s resume shows that he has held many positions in a short period of time. He commented that he was recently appointed to DBEDT and asked why he applied for the Assistant Superintendent position. Committee Member De Lima asked how long Tanaka plans to stay with the Department. He expressed concern that Tanaka would leave in a short period of time based on his work history. He noted that Tanaka has held a lot of responsibility in past positions but seems to move from one position to another.
Tanaka stated that he has been fortunate to be recruited, which is why his resume shows that he has moved from one position to another. He stated that he would like to think that he has been successful in every role he has had. He stated that he has had discussions with the Governor and Mike McCartney, Director of DBEDT. He stated that McCartney gave him his approval to apply for the assistant superintendent position and told him that he may be one of the few individuals who could get this work done and make improvements. He stated that the Governor advised him to be clear of what he was getting himself into because it is a daunting task.
Tanaka stated that he has two daughters, nephews, and nieces. He detailed that he lived on Kauai, his mother is from Hawaiʻi Island, and his wife is a teacher. He stated that at family gatherings he had discussions about stepping up and doing something. Tanaka stated that he has enjoyed working at DBEDT and has worked with rocket launch pads, housing, and a multitude of other things. He detailed that DBEDT has 12 attached agencies and six divisions. He explained that he understands what DBEDT is trying to do in terms of changing the trajectory of the state. Tanaka stated that school tourists were inspired when they came to the Westin Hotel in Kauai while he worked there. He emphasized the importance of inspiring children to get them to the next level. He stated that individuals leave Hawaii every day of the week for better opportunities. He stated that the flow of those leaving would not change but it is important to focus on children who stay and how to get them to the level. He noted that facilities and teachers play a role in this. Tanaka stated that he has no opposition to increases in teacher’s salaries.
Committee Member De Lima expressed concern that another agency would recruit Tanaka within a short period of time. Tanaka stated that he cannot say that this would not happen. Committee Member De Lima asked if Tanaka could make a commitment to the Department for at least three years. Tanaka stated the Governor did not tell him to not leave DBEDT because he believed that Tanaka could make a difference in the Department. Committee Member De Lima expressed further concern regarding Tanaka’s resume and the amount of time he was in each position he held. He expressed concern that the Department and staff would invest energy in Tanaka and Tanaka would leave for a different position in a short period of time. He noted that this could have negative effects on students and families. Tanaka confirmed that he would commit to being in the role of assistant superintendent for at least three years.
Committee Member Uemura commented that he has asked for job descriptions for previous appointments. He noted that the Department did not provide the Committee with a job description so he is unaware of what is listed in the job description. He asked how Tanaka’s resume aligns to the job description. He stated that he cannot review the alignment and asked the Department to ensure that it includes job descriptions for all future appointments.
Committee Member Uemura commented that the Department’s memorandum highlights Tanaka’s exceptional leadership, project management skills, and a track record of developing new and improved systems and processes. He stated that he does see project management experience in Tanaka’s resume. Committee Member Uemura stated that typically positions of this nature seek candidates with engineering degrees, construction experience, or project management experience. He noted that Tanaka does not possess these experiences or attributes. He stated that Tanaka has a good network and positive relationships with legislators, but he does not have the right background or qualifications. He asked how Tanaka would fit into this role. Committee Member Uemura asked what barriers might stop him from being successful in this position.
Committee Member Uemura commented that thus far Tanaka has provided the Committee with standard answers regarding teams. He stated that government can be difficult to change otherwise changes could have occurred years ago. He explained that he typically asks if the Department has individuals in place to do what needs to be done and the Department answers that it does not. He noted that Tanaka mentioned he would bench individuals and asked how he would replace them. He stated that one of the barriers for the Department is being able to recruit skilled people at the right salary. He asked how Tanaka would accomplish this and stated that he would like more concrete answers.
Committee Member Uemura commented that one of the bills introduced this legislative session relates to the establishment of a school facilities agency that would take over CIP projects, big R&M projects, and Act 155. He asked how this would affect Tanaka’s job description and work and asked if Tanaka was aware of this bill.
Tanaka confirmed that he was aware of this legislative bill. He emphasized the importance of managing multiple tasks. Tanaka stated that an individual from the National Medical Association told him a joke at one point. He asked Tanaka what the difference was between God and a doctor and stated that the difference is that God knows he is not a doctor. Tanaka emphasized the importance of quantifying what he could do, could not do, and should not be doing in the first place. He shared an example regarding his capacity to multitask. Tanaka explained that Hawaii had been trying to host the World Conservation Congress for eight years prior to being successful in doing so. He emphasized that it was the largest conservation congress of the world. Tanaka noted that an individual from the United States Department of State was in opposition to Hawaii hosting for a number of political reasons. He noted that the United States is not necessarily a good example of conservation in the world and the individual was concerned that Hawaii would face criticism if it were to host. Tanaka stated that he spent a lot of time managing the project to get the United States Department of State to reverse its letter to the President of the United States of America stating that Hawaii should not host the World Conservation Congress. He stated that he worked with senators and representatives.
Tanaka stated that he had to raise $13.2 million for the World Conservation Congress. He detailed that he and Tim Johns lobbied at the Legislature which is how he established relationships with many legislators. He noted that he and Tim Johns became good friends due to that experience. Tanaka detailed that he spent a lot of time multitasking various projects in order to host the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. He highlighted that he raised $13.2 million and further highlighted that his agency was the first agency in the state to return $2.9 million to the State. Tanaka detailed that one representative wanted to conduct an audit but Senator Ronald D. Kouchi stated that an informational briefing should be held prior to an audit. Tanaka noted that Senator Kouchi asked how this representative would answer when the agency confirmed that it returned $2.9 million. Tanaka stated that he managed a budget and process. He noted that no agency ever returns funds back to the Legislature. Tanaka highlighted that he spent an extraordinary amount of time with his team to ensure the correct management of assets, time, and projects.
Tanaka stated that he ran the Hawaii Convention Center in a similar manner. He detailed that the public was concerned with traffic jams when the convention center hosted an American Dental Association conference. He stated that it took a lot of time and effort to ensure that this would not happen. Tanaka detailed the first day of the conference and noted that the convention center worked with bus companies. He stated that over 800 bus trips per day go over the Ala Wai bridge. He stated that he managed this project by working hard.
Tanaka described building teams. He noted that there is always a place for everyone but there needed to be a clear understanding of performance and expectations. He detailed that one of his employees at the Hawaii Convention Center was upset with their boss and had seven binders full of complaints. He detailed that he sat down with this employee to listen to the issues. He stated that he told her that would address her complaints and asked for the binders. He noted that the employee left the binders on his desk the following day and he terminated her boss. Tanaka stated that he has had to make tough decisions but emphasized the importance of being fair and equitable. He stated that most employees want to perform well and he appeals to their sense of responsibility. He stated that his answers are truthful rather than standard and this is how he would manage OSFSS.
Ex Officio Committee Member Kawano asked about the top three things that Tanaka would like to accomplish in the next three years other than coming up with a plan, analyzing, and hiring staff. Tanaka stated that sometimes leaders need to shut up and listen. He stated that he would spend a lot of time listening to others. He noted that he has already received unsolicited phone calls from individuals who want to sit down with him. He noted that he does not yet know these individuals well and believes they feel comfortable speaking with him. Tanaka emphasized the importance of building trust. He stated that both good and bad conversations that need to be had would happen with trust.
Tanaka detailed what he would accomplish in the role of assistant superintendent. He stated that he would identify gaps. He noted that it might be apparent where the gaps are but he would need confirmation from staff who deliver the goods. He stated that he would review the relevancy of technology today compared to what the Department is doing. Tanaka stated that he reviewed positions and noted that OSFSS has 90 open positions, including four positions for lawnmower technicians. Tanaka stated that he spoke with his friend Art Kimura who he met when his daughter went to camp. He noted that Art Kimura is knowledgeable about robotics. Tanaka stated that he asked his friend how robots could be designed to pick tomatoes and explained that he is trying to modernize the lowest rung of the ladder, which is labor, when there is no labor available for work.
Tanaka stated that he would fill the bench and recruit the right individuals by attempting to modernize the lowest rung. He detailed a robotics event in Tokyo and noted that robots that can pick ripe tomatoes already exist. He stated that there are many robots in the area of agriculture. He asked why the Department could not modernize and use technology to mow lawns. He stated that the Department is unable to do so because it would need to engage in discussions with unions. He stated that unions cannot fear that modernization would remove jobs and noted that the Department should not remove jobs. The Department should elevate its employees to a higher level and pay grade so that they do not need two jobs to survive. He stated that this is a part of modernization that he would need to review. He noted that applied technology inspires students. Tanaka stated that he spoke with a robotics teacher at Waialua High School who was concerned that athletics received more resources in terms of complexes than robotics. Tanaka stated that he told this teacher that a new gym would resolve this problem for robotics and he should get athletics on board with his goals. He stated that this is a holistic approach and what needs to be done. Tanaka emphasized the importance of listening to staff, receiving their input, and developing priorities. He stated that he is unaware of what the exact issue are but would figure it out.
Committee Member Payne commented that the Committee is short on time and would need to wrap up its discussion. She stated that the top priority is to find a candidate with strong leadership capabilities who could bring individuals together. She stated that this is one of the Department’s biggest challenges. She noted that the leader would not be able to perform everyone’s job but would need to understand who could perform which job and bring these individuals together in order to lead the organization. Committee Member Payne noted that a number of responsibilities would fall under OSFSS regardless of the outcome of the school facilities agency bill, including safety and security and a number of other critical areas. She stated that Tanaka’s biggest challenge will be to bring everyone together from different sections. She emphasized the importance of leadership skills and visionary orientation and stated that she feels confident that Tanaka will be able to perform in this role based on what he has done and what he feels is needed in the Department.
Tanaka commented on movements and separation. He detailed New York’s convention construction authority and stated that senators have asked him to review this model. He stated that he reviewed the model and noted that the authority that was built was based upon corruption in the construction business in New York and had nothing to do with performance. He stated that it was about individuals who took more money than they should have. Tanaka stated that he does not believe that the Department has the same problems. He stated that he spoke with a senator and told him that the Department could get more done if it received similar exemptions as the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation. He stated that current processes are adding to frustration and emphasized the importance of having discussions regarding shortening processes to fix schools in a timelier manner.
Committee Chairperson Takeno stated that the Committee had more questions for Tanaka and would like to continue its discussion. He suggested deferring any committee recommendation regarding the appointment of the Assistant Superintendent for OSFSS and continuing discussions at the January 16, 2020 general business meeting, later the same afternoon.
Committee Member Payne requested to withdraw her motion. The Committee granted permission to withdraw the motion by unanimous consent.
ACTION: Motion to defer action on the appointment of the Assistant Superintendent for the Office of School Facilities and Support Services to Board of Education at its January 16, 2020 General Business Meeting (Payne/De Lima). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
Committee Chairperson Takeno adjourned the meeting at 10:56 a.m.