Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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News report scuttles 7 educators' trip to isles

By Erika Engle


Seven educators from the San Diego Unified School District have been prohibited from traveling to Hawaii for the four-day International Baccalaureate professional development conference in Honolulu beginning Dec. 3, after a news report questioned the necessity of a Hawaii trip.

The International Baccalaureate offers programs focused on international education to some 876,000 students in 3,073 schools in 139 countries, according to its website.

The investigative arm of the San Diego Union-Tribune, "The Watchdog," questioned the $11,200 travel costs for personnel from Kate Sessions Elementary School to travel to the Hawaii event at Hilton Hawaiian Village.

"They (the schools) are so broke that they are asking us to support (higher taxes) and they are going to Hawaii? That stinks," said a parent quoted in the story.

The story described the Hilton Hawaiian Village as a "resort that spans 22 acres and features six pools, 500 palm trees and the widest stretch of beach on Waikiki."

"Is seven people going to Hawaii excessive? Maybe. That's something we need to look at, and we will," said Carolyn Goohs, San Diego Unified's magnet school director, in the Union-Tribune story, which was published Monday. On Tuesday the school superintendent suspended the Hawaii trip.

The school district did not answer your columnist's specific questions, but sent a statement. "Due to the current budget crisis, Superintendent Bill Kowba has suspended district participation in all International Baccalaureate (IB) conferences pending further review of the costs associated with the program's required professional development."

"The district will work closely with the International Baccalaureate Foundation to ensure these programs continue in our schools while making accommodations for required professional development in these current economic times," the statement said.

As with any show, the conference will go on, with the currently registered 228 attendees -- 100 from the mainland and Canada, and 128 from Hawaii, confirmed Sandra Coyle, communications manager for IB Americas.

The December conference is the first for the IB in Hawaii, where there are five participating schools: Henry J. Kaiser High School, James Campbell High School, Le Jardin Academy, Mid-Pacific Institute and Niu Valley Middle School.

Making money to cost more

The cost to get a Hawaii state insurance license goes up to $56.25 per resident Monday, following a change in the law and outsourcing of the process by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Insurance Division.

Residents with active licenses are not affected by the law, which now requires applicants for new insurance licenses to submit fingerprints.

The process used to cost $40, "to compensate us for the time we spent to do manual research," said Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito. The price increase covers the fee for New Jersey-based Fieldprint Inc. to electronically scan an applicant's fingerprints, to conduct the background check.

The company has established seven locations in Hawaii: three in Honolulu; one in Waipahu; one in Wailuku, Maui; and two on the Big Island -- one in Hilo and one in Kona. Appointments must be made by calling 877-614-4364 between 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. Hawaii time (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time).

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at


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