Hunter Harris, Student Representative
Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent
Brian Hallett, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Fiscal Services
Randall Tanaka, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Facilities and Operations
Alison Kunishige, Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
Regina Pascua, Executive Secretary
Lady Garrett, Secretary
Committee Chairperson Voss called for public testimony on this agenda item. No one provided oral testimony at this time.
Committee Chairperson Voss asked Committee members to review the minutes of the Committee’s May 20, 2021 meeting.
Committee Vice Chairperson Lynn Fallin moved to approve the Committee’s meeting minutes of May 20, 2021. Committee Member Dwight Takeno seconded.
Committee Chairperson Voss asked if there were any objections to the motion. No Committee member raised objections, and the motion was carried through unanimous consent from all members present (Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin, Committee Members Namauʻu, Payne, and Takeno).
ACTION: Motion to approve the Finance and Infrastructure Committee Meeting minutes of May 20, 2021 (Fallin/Takeno). The motion was carried through unanimous consent from all members present.
III. Recommendation for Action
Cheri Nakamura, HEʻE Coalition, testified that supplemental funding is critical to get students back on track and resources should be prioritized at the school level in the classroom. She noted that historical data shows many high needs students will not participate in programs and support should be focused during the school year when attendance is mandatory.
David Miyashiro, HawaiiKidsCAN, testified that one benefit of the application extension requested by the Department was that it made it possible to review other state plans already submitted to the United States Department of Education (“USDOE”) and noted that unlike other plans, the Hawaii plan lacks specificity on how its plan will be implemented, the Hawaii plan mentioned an early learning acceleration framework with no timeline on finalization, and the Hawaii plan lacks needs assessment and evidence based program selection processes seen in other plans. Miyashiro urged the Board of Education (“Board”) to direct the Department to seek an additional extension since other states have extensions beyond July 1, 2021.
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified that the Department’s plan lacks specificity and that the Department should request an additional extension to take into consideration everything mentioned by the previous speaker.
Committee Chairperson Voss called on Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent, to present the Department’s proposed plan for the use of federal funds in the third round of the Education Stabilization Fund’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (“ESSER”) Fund authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARP”).
Kishimoto stated the focus is on the Department’s plan for the use of ESSER ARP funds because the Department must submit this plan to USDOE so it will release the remaining funds. She noted that the Department is not seeking approval of a detailed multi-year expenditure plan for the ESSER ARP funds due to governance continuous review and the Department’s analysis of legislation passed during the 2021 session, including House Bill (“HB”) 613.
Kishimoto explained that the Department anticipates presenting a detailed expenditure plan at a future meeting and that any plan will require periodic adjustments in consideration of ongoing analysis of student data and input, best practices, community input, and expenditures. She stated that on March 11, 2021, the ARP was signed into law providing $1.9 trillion in federal funding to address the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Kishimoto stated that $122.8 billion was appropriated for ESSER ARP funds to support schools and safely reopen and sustain safe operations to meet student needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also stated that as the State Education Agency (“SEA”), the Department received two-thirds of its ESSER ARP allocation in March 2021, with the stipulation that the Department submit a state plan to USDOE describing how it will meet the requirements of the ESSER ARP funds prior to receiving the remainder of the allocation.
Kishimoto stated that the Department’s total allocation is $412.3 million and USDOE is withholding approximately $137.4 million pending the approval of the state plan. She stated that on April 21, 2021, USDOE released the state plan application which the Department used to describe how it will use the ESSER ARP funds.
Kishimoto stated that the initial deadline was June 7, 2021, but the Department requested and USDOE granted an extension to the deadline to allow the Department the opportunity to obtain Board approval of the plan prior to submission. She stated the extended deadline is July 1, 2021. Kishimoto noted that every effort will be made to ensure a safe return of all students to school campuses for in-person learning at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Kishimoto stated that the USDOE requires that the Department use the funds for: (1) learning loss mitigation to address the academic impact of lost instructional time; (2) summer learning and enrichment programs, which shall constitute as no less than one percent of the total allocation; and, (3) comprehensive after-school programs, which shall constitute no less than one percent of the total allocation.
Kishimoto stated that public input was an important part of the process and the Department was required to consult with stakeholders including students, families, civil rights organizations, disability rights organizations, school administrators, superintendents, educators and unions. She stated that as both SEA and LEA the Department was required to gather and consider public input when drafting the plan. Kishimoto detailed that this public input included a virtual meeting the Department held on June 2, 2021 to engage stakeholders about the needs of our students and how to best address those needs. She stated that stakeholders expressed an interest in the Department soliciting more active participation from students and parents and asked the Department to better leverage community assets to provide better innovative educational opportunities such as work based, aina-based opportunities and hands on learning. Kishimoto stated that stakeholders asked the Department to focus on accelerated learning, promoting digital literacy, addressing social emotional behavioral and academic needs through counseling program offerings, multiple instructional modes, and ensuring teachers are provided with necessary training and support to succeed.
Kishimoto stated that the Department also posted an online survey on it’s website from May 21, 2021 to June 4, 2021 to solicit input from stakeholders and the general public on the needs of students, initiatives to address these needs, and priorities for the use of funds. She shared that the Department received 4,338 survey responses and most of the responses indicated that the use of funds should focus on directly addressing student needs and reopening schools safely.
Kishimoto shared the following recommendations provided by stakeholders through the survey: comprehensive after-school programs and extended learning opportunities, more highly qualified teachers to reduce class size, daily in-person instruction to meet student academic needs, more counseling, behavioral and mental health support at the school level to address student mental health needs. She also stated that the Department considered inputs from legislators through the contents of HB 613, informational briefings on learning loss and school reopening and input from Board members through Board meeting discussions and input from the public through testimony.
Kishimoto explained that as the SEA, the Department is responsible for ensuring the safe return to in-person instruction, meeting the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students and addressing the opportunity gaps, which existed before and were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. She also explained that as the LEA, the Department is responsible for developing a plan for the use of ESSER ARP funds to achieve these objectives, and as both SEA and LEA, the Department is responsible for determining whether the use of the ESSER ARP funds meet the intent.
Kishimoto stated that the Department has prioritized equity as a focus and promised that it would ensure students have strong relationships and support to mitigate differences that enable students to succeed academically and socially. She stated that ESSER ARP funds will be allocated across the entire K-12 education system based on student needs. She also stated that returning all students to in-person instruction is a critical component to engage students in learning environments that are most conducive to ensuring student success.
Kishimoto noted that the Department understands the importance of leveraging what was learned this past year to develop innovative school programs in various modes. She explained the proposed state plan includes implementing evidence based learning loss mitigation, summer learning and enrichment programs, and comprehensive after-school programs to address three critical issues: (1) learning loss, particularly students who were already behind on grade level expectations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) social and emotional effects of the extended school campus closures; (3) the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 on school campuses. Kishimoto explained that the Department proposes addressing needs by re-engaging students with in-person learning, identifying social and emotional health concerns, and addressing absenteeism. She shared that as of April 30, 2021, 21% of students were chronically absent or at risk of being chronically absent which is a six percent increase from previous years and raises concerns of disengagement. Kishimoto recognized that many families are struggling, which impacts student support structures for attendance or engagement and year end results will be available in July. She stated that the Department saw an increase in the percentage of students receiving a failing mark in the third quarter measured by Board metrics 4, 5, and 6. Kishimoto also stated that there are anecdotal reports that students found it difficult to maintain positive mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and to address learning loss the Department will use no less than 23% of the ESSER ARP funds to implement a number of evidence-based interventions, including high dosage tutoring, extended learning time, and academic coaching for intensive individualized support to re-engage and motivate students.
Kishimoto stated that the Department plan includes strategies such as: programs to target and help students transition from one school to the next; promoting and expanding high interest areas such as Hawaiian education, performing arts, fine arts, computer science and sports to re-engage students for in person instruction; support and resources for families to help understand the changes are experiencing; and monitor student data to evaluate the effectiveness to mitigate learning loss.
Kishimoto stated that complex areas will have the flexibility to implement programs in order to best meet the needs of the students and are expected to differentiate support and programming access for the students struggling the most. She also explained that the Department is providing a multi-tiered system of support for students and that complexes and schools will offer an extensive summer learning program to provide for credit recovery, credit advancement, remediation, intervention, enrichment, and transition from one grade level to the next. Kishimoto noted that the Department will continue to provide devices to ensure all students have the resources necessary to be successful in school. She stated that the Department will use federal funds to continue, expand or enhance offerings and establish complex area school-based initiatives. Kishimoto explained that additional uses of the ESSER ARP funds include efforts to increase teacher retention, shortages in hard to fill areas to ensure high quality instruction, and maintaining teacher differentials.
Kishimoto stated that the Department is working to maintain operations and the continuity of services by addressing the budget shortfalls of $100.2 million each fiscal year of the next biennium from the legislature.
Kishimoto stated that the Department is requesting approval of the state plan for submission to USDOE in order to receive the remaining allocation of the ESSER ARP funds, which outlines the intended use of the funds. The plan is not meant to be a comprehensive spending plan, but rather a flexible framework for the Board and Department to make decisions based on progress to ensure improved student outcomes and appropriately address student needs.
Committee Chairperson Voss stated that the memorandum dated June 17, 2021 includes the Department’s proposed state plan for submission to the USDOE. He noted that his understanding is that if the Committee recommends that the Board approves this plan, it will only be approving the federal application that would enable the release of the remaining balance of ESSER ARP funds and it would not be approving any specific expenditures or allocations of federal funds.
Committee Member Catherine Payne moved to recommend approval of the proposed ESSER ARP State Plan, as attached to Kishimoto’s memorandum dated June 17, 2021, for submission to the U.S. Department of Education. Committee Member Namauʻu seconded the motion.
Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin expressed appreciation for Kishimoto’s clarification regarding the Department’s strategy for the application and a flexible framework as the Board moves through the budget process. She stated that given Board policy and statute, the Board is responsible to review and approve funding and serve as the administrator of federal funds. Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin stated that after reviewing the application, it lacks any specifics so she is looking forward to working with the Department on getting more detailed information.
Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin asked about the federal compliance expectations, assuming the Board approves the general plan. She also asked what happens with a non-compliance issue with student achievement since millions in federal funds are coming into the state and the Department should be targeting certain groups to improve learning. Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin asked what data the Department will track and provide to the Board to determine whether the Department has made progress.
Kishimoto replied that the Department is accountable for reporting and tracking a list of specific data groups for student achievement down to sub-groups which identify funds in particular areas to address student needs. She stated that school financial plans will include how the use of funds will be differentiated for students experiencing learning loss and how this will be tracked. The funds will not be used for all students, but rather those students who experienced learning loss and need to catch up.
Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin asked about the federal expectations around measuring or determining progress made and the expectations are for progress.
Kishimoto replied that the Department will review data by schools, grade level, complex, and state level areas to see where the trend is going downward and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on outcome data to justify where the Department’s emphasis for programming will be and show the increase in academic outcomes, similar to the design of gap analysis and data to track areas that were impacted over this time period.
Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin asked whether the Department is looking at a system at all levels to track progress. Kishimoto replied that the Department is required by the federal government to report data and adjustments made based on analysis of data, which can continue quarterly for the Board and every six months over the time period of the grant.
Committee Chairperson Voss asked if Hallett could address the details requested from Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin regarding data and compliance.
Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin asked whether Hallett could link the information to the budget and what is reported at a future meeting. She also requested that the Department start talking about how to look at the return on investment based on these academic priorities and interventions.
Kishimoto replied that the Department will look at the return on investments and look at how to build out the structures based on academic priorities.
Hallett stated that programs are identified and set up to be defined with certain activities for each program and tracking expenditures according to programs and locations where these programs are occurring, then linking this information with actual results. He explained that the Department will not be creating buckets and handing out money to schools or complex areas for general activities, but by specific activities that link to student outcomes.
Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin stated there is a large amount of funding coming into the state over a period of time. She encouraged the Department to provide information on the total funding.
Ex Officio Board Member Kenneth Uemura stated the Department drafted the application so it would receive the remaining $137.4 million or 1/3 of the federal funds allocated to the state. He asked whether the submission of the application can be delayed further because otherwise the Department will not be providing the Board with a spending plan before it submits the application. Ex Officio Board Member Uemura also asked for an explanation of the Department’s thought process because it is important to understand the relationship between the application and how the Department will spend the funds. He asked if the Department has determined how the funds will be spent.
Kishimoto clarified that once USDOE approves the application, it will release the final 1/3 of the funds, but that the plan is for the entire $412 million. She stated that this is to allow the LEA to identify how it will use the funds and the partial withholding of funds was to make sure state leaders and legislators to allow the LEA to identify how the use of funds will mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic with a particular focus on learning loss. Kishimoto noted that USDOE was concerned that some states were using the funds intended for education for other statewide purposes.
Ex Officio Board Member Uemura stated that the application is for the entire amount of $412 million, but in order to get the remaining one-third the Department needed to submit the application. He noted that the Department in previous meetings has discussed ESSER I, II, and ESSER ARP funds and that the Department was going to provide the Board with summary sheets that details all of the federal funds that the Department receives and how those funds will be used. Ex Officio Board Member Uemura expressed concern because he is unsure how the funds will be spent based on the plan the Department presented. He stated that the federal government is not requiring a budget as a part of the application, but the Board is requiring that the Department provide it with a budget. Ex Officio Board Member Uemura noted his preference to see the plan and amount associated with the plan, which will then become the application and not the other way around.
Kishimoto stated there have been constant conversations with Committee Chair Voss on the process and making sure that expectations are clear and that the Board wanted the Department to back away from a full allocation of previously released ESSER I and II funds. She stated that the Board has taken action twice to look at parts of ESSER funding and not the whole, but the team is prepared to address the general breakdown of big categories and potential allocations per category that is being used as a framework.
Committee Chairperson Voss stated that Ex Officio Board Member Uemura raised very important questions and he will go through with the Department a series of questions to outline Board expectations at the conclusion of Board members' questions.
Committee Member Payne stated that the Board has identified and passed in previous meetings priorities for ESSER II funds and looking forward to ESSER ARP funds, some of those priorities will probably continue. She stated that she expected the Board to have more input into the details of spending these funds so that it can get assurances instead of a theoretical concept. Committee Member Payne stated that once the Department complies with USDOE’s requests and the Department receives the funds, the Department will provide the Board with its plan. Kishimoto confirmed that this is an accurate statement.
Ex Officio Board Member Uemura expressed concern regarding how the Department will use the funds and raised the fact that at a previous meeting Board members asked for a summary of all of the federal funds available and how these funds will be used. He noted that the Department stated it would provide that information to the Board, but the information was never provided at a Board meeting and expressed his concern because the Board needs to know what funds are available and how the funds will be used. Ex Officio Board Member Uemura also agreed with some of Committee Member Payne’s comments, but stated that he is unsure that these funds are tentative because the Board needs to determine how funds will be used before they are received. He expressed discomfort that the Department will provide detailed information after it submits its application and reiterated that the detailed information should all be presented to the Board and reflected in the application.
Committee Chairperson Voss noted that he is in agreement with Ex Officio Board Member Uemura’s comments and has communicated this to Department staff.
Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin stated that there is a lot of opportunity, although she cannot recall the actual amount, there are hundreds of millions of dollars coming into the state. She emphasized that she does not want to come to the end of the funding cycle and see little progress has been made.
Committee Chairperson Voss stated that he has several questions and emphasized the purpose of this line of questioning is to clarify and set the Committee’s expectations and provide the public with what to expect. He stated that by law, the Board is responsible as the administrator of federal funds to ensure compliance with federal requirements. Committee Chairperson Voss asked when specifically will the Department will come back to the Board with a comprehensive plan for both allocations and expenditures of ESSER ARP funds of $412 million and remaining unspent or unallocated remaining ESSER II funds, which is approximately $54 million or the total amount of $466 million.
Hallett replied that the Department anticipates that information will be available in August and noted that because neither HB 613 or HB 200 (the biennium budget bill) have been signed into law, the Department is waiting on the outcomes of those bills and budget execution policies, which will determine whether the Department will face budget restrictions next year. Hallett noted that the fiscal picture will be clearer in July and the Board will benefit from additional data in August. He also stated that the total amount of ESSER I, II, and ESSER ARP funds is $638 million.
Committee Chairperson Voss asked that anticipating that the Department will be coming back to the Board in August with a comprehensive plan of expenditures and allocations, will the Department continue to solicit public input on the specific expenditure of funds from stakeholders. Hallett replied that the Department anticipates continuing to engage with principals and school community councils; however, if the Board would like further engagement then it is something to discuss further and determine a path forward.
Committee Chairperson Voss requested that, given the guidance from the federal government strongly encouraging if not mandating public input for every process, the Department institute a program to solicit public input between now and the August meeting relating to the specific expenditure of funds, not just the generalized priorities.
Committee Chairperson Voss noted that some of the testifiers, especially Miyashiro, raised excellent points about the lack of detail in the proposed plan. He noted that in conjunction with specific allocation and expenditures of funds and demonstration that the Department has solicited public input for those expenditures, he asked the Department to provide additional details on specific programs, on how funds will be used for specific programs, and their expected outcomes.
Hallett replied that the Department will provide program descriptions and outcome expectations.
Committee Chairperson Voss stated that with respect to the plan to be provided in August, Kishimoto indicated that the Board would not be approving everything at once and he would like an explanation on how this will be presented to the Board on a periodic basis so that the Board can evaluate whether the funds are being used appropriately.
Hallett replied that looking back on the Department’s previous experiences with ESSER II funds, he anticipates that there will be an active look and re-evaluation every six months of a multi-year plan. He clarified that the funds will be available for programming until September 2024 and the preference is to look at the funds year by year to anticipate adjustments that will need to be made with the vision of a multi-year application.
Committee Chairperson Voss asked whether the Department will also provide the Board with data required by USDOE showing the student outcomes that result from these programs and expenditures of funds. Kishimoto replied that the data will continue to be published and the Department has a full year of data from its dashboard that served as a good model and can continue to be expanded on for both the Board and public.
Committee Chairperson Voss noted that the vote on the motion is only to approve the plan and not the approval of any expenditures.
Committee Chairperson Voss called for a roll call vote on the motion. The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye (Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin, Committee Members Namauʻu, Payne, and Takeno).
ACTION: Motion to approve the proposed ESSER ARP State Plan, as attached to Kishimoto’s memorandum dated June 17, 2021, for submission to the U.S. Department of Education (Payne/ Namauʻu). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
IV. Discussion Items
Committee Chairperson Voss called on Randall Tanaka, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Facilities and Operations, to present the Department’s repair and maintenance (“R&M”) and capital improvement project (“CIP”) programs.
Tanaka stated that the Department is trying to establish a common understanding of the difference between deferred maintenance projects and capital projects since each are funded in different ways.
Tanaka stated that the Department is in discussions with the newly created state facilities agency, which continues to be subject to funding. He explained how projects are funded and process of Board approval, submittal to the Governor, submittal to the Legislature for consideration, and final approval by the Governor.
Tanaka explained the appropriation process and stated that the Department’s statewide CIP amount is $427 million for the first year of the biennium and the second year is $26 million. He stated that the difference between the line items the Legislature approved and what the Department proposed is a 60/40 split.
Tanaka stated this is a transitional plan because before the Board established its equity requirements, there were legacy projects, so the Department will be in full compliance with Board direction in three to four years. He explained that the Department uses three tools instituted since November 2020: (1) HI-FIT tool which is an evaluation done school by school to gain input from schools; (2) infrastructure assessments and supportive improvements to validate and align immediate needs; and (3) capital improvement prioritization which leans with capacity since some areas are dealing with 100 year old buildings and determination on building a new wing or build a new facility. Tanaka shared that West Oahu is dealing with new capacity and an aging infrastructure, which will put stress on existing schools. Tanaka detailed the reporting timeline, which is a variance report on what the Department said would be done, what was completed, and what may be holding up the project. He noted that the Department will be challenged by the cost of materials, like lumber prices, which increased nearly 300 percent, and will impact the budget. Tanaka explained that his office is looking at purchasing and having discussions with contractors regarding how to best control escalating costs. He stated detailed how funds are distributed by school and how the Department handles Title I and comprehensive support and improvement school funding.
Committee Member Payne asked about legislative line items and how these line items consume the budget and take priority over the projects identified by the Department. Tanaka replied that the Department needs to work closer with legislators who hear from their constituents and that the R&M list continues to grow as schools age, but there is never enough funds.
Committee Member Payne stated that the equity issue is important and over decades legislators who get their line items funded are those in power. She stated that there needs to be more discussions because equity will never be achieved if schools in the most distress have the poorest quality facilities and that the Board needs to continue to advocate for those schools.
Committee Chairperson Voss expressed appreciation for Committee Member Payne’s comments and noted that for those reasons the Board adopted Board Policy 301-10, to address the problems described that there is a statewide system to ensure equity in facilities for all students; however, legislator line item priorities have exacerbated inequalities.
Committee Vice Chairperson Fallin asked about legislative appropriations and whether it is typical for the Legislature to front load funding in the first year of biennium and then drastically reduce funding in the second year. She asked about the impact this has on operations and whether there is any danger of the Department not being able to expend the funding. Tanaka replied that this is not typical because the request is usually equal in both years; however, this biennium will go until 2024, so there the Department has time to expend the funds.
Tanaka shared that he understands that the imbalance of $427 million in the first year then $26 million in the second year of the biennium is because the Legislature anticipates that the economy will improve. He stated that the expectation is that the Legislature will increase the allocation for the second year of the biennium.
Committee Member Payne asked the Department to provide any alignment between legislative line items and Department priorities.
Committee Chairperson Voss echoed this request. Tanaka replied that the process has started and he will provide this information to the Board.
Committee Chairperson Voss asked for a status update on the expectation that the Department would publicly post priority lists for CIP and R&M projects. Tanaka replied that the lists are on the Department’s website for the public to review.
Committee Chairperson Voss asked for a status update on the R&M backlog and stated there is continuing confusion on the Department’s reporting of the R&M backlog. Tanaka replied that the Department looked at the project list and prioritized based on the Board’s criteria within the context of budget limitations.
Committee Chairperson Voss asked about the current amount of the R&M backlog. Tanaka replied that his best estimate is $700 million to $1 billion for the R&M backlog.
Board members received written testimony before the meeting. The following is a listing of the people who submitted written testimony before the meeting.
|Paula Adams||Hawaii Afterschool Alliance||III. A. Committee Action on recommendation concerning Department of Education’s plan for use federal funds in third round of the Education Stabilization Fund’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief ESSER Fund authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021|
|David Miyashiro||HawaiiKidsCAN||III. A. Committee Action on recommendation concerning Department of Education’s plan for use federal funds in third round of the Education Stabilization Fund’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief ESSER Fund authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021|
|Cheri Nakamura||HE‘E Coalition||III. A. Committee Action on recommendation concerning Department of Education’s plan for use federal funds in third round of the Education Stabilization Fund’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief ESSER Fund authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021|
Committee Chairperson Voss adjourned the meeting at 12:17 p.m.