Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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400 school positions face budget ax

Most are vacant positions, and more than half are in special education

By Mary Vorsino


About 400 Department of Education positions -- most of which are vacant -- will be eliminated under a proposal expected to save about $15 million.

The Board of Education will consider the DOE plan Monday in a special meeting to discuss the budget for the coming school year.

The bulk of the positions -- about 230 -- are in special-education programs at schools.

DOE officials could not immediately say how many of the positions set to be cut are filled, but said they expect few layoffs.

They did say employees could be shifted to other programs.

In a memo to the board, schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said the $15 million in cuts was originally going to be directed only at special-education programs, mostly through cuts to positions. Officials decided to spread the cuts to other departments, which Matayoshi said will "lessen the negative impact on special-education services."


» What: The Board of Education will hold a special meeting to discuss budget issues and proposed cuts to programs and positions for the coming school year.

» When: Monday, 1 p.m.

» Where: Queen Liliuokalani Building, 1390 Miller St.

» For more information, call 586-3349.


But, she added, cuts elsewhere "will affect the level of services provided and may result in the reduction of positions that are currently filled."

James Brese, DOE's chief financial officer, said it appears most employees whose positions are cut will be able to move to other programs or departments. He said the proposal also includes cuts to contracted services.

Eliminating vacant positions saves money because, though they are empty, the state still budgets for them. Brese noted that the DOE could not fill vacant positions anyway because of a hiring freeze.

Still, education advocates have raised concerns about cuts to vacant positions, saying while they are preferable to layoffs, there are worries that the positions will not be restored once the budget situation improves.

The funding cuts are needed to meet budget restrictions approved in the last legislative session, when the department's funding for the fiscal year that starts Thursday was slashed by about $127 million.

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