The state Board of Education approved a new three-year contract for public schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi Tuesday, but will require her to report back about what is being done to address concerns raised in a scathing independent survey of school principals.
The board, which hadn’t launched a search for replacement, appeared ready to extend Matayoshi’s tenure at its monthly board meeting.
But before going behind closed doors to take action on the superintendent’s contract, the board heard testimony from retired public school principal Darrel Galera and UH law professor Randy Roth, who along with other retired principals released a survey last month that found an overwhelming majority of principals say they lack the needed support and autonomy to act in the best interests of their schools. The principals said they hesitate to speak out for fear of retaliation.
The school leaders also said their ability to make decisions at the school level has been stymied by “top-down” management by the Department of Education, and that sweeping academic reforms the state pledged for its federal Race to the Top grant have dragged down morale at their schools.
Roth said the survey results deserve attention from the department before any decision on the superintendent post.
“I don’t think you can make a decision that will be respected by the public unless the superintendent has shared with the public generally and with the principals and teachers in particular, her thoughts and concerns about the recent principals’ survey,” Roth said.
Board members assured Galera, who administered the survey using principals’ personal emails, that they were taking the concerns seriously.
“We’ve heard the message,” Chairman Don Horner said. “We do take this information very seriously.”
A salary has not yet been determined. A bill awaiting the governor’s signature would raise the potential salary for the position to $250,000 from $150,000. A $150,000 statutory cap — set by lawmakers in 2001 — has kept Mata-yo-shi’s salary at that level the past three years, while at least two school principals earn more than she does.
Matayoshi current contract expires June 30.