Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

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24 apply to be next schools chief

By Mary Vorsino


Twenty-four people have applied for the job of running Hawaii's public schools.

A Board of Education committee on Friday began going through the applications for school superintendent at a meeting on Kauai, weeding out those who did not meet minimum requirements.

A short list was forwarded to the full board, which will meet tomorrow to decide how to proceed.

Board spokesman Alex Da Silva said he could not reveal how many names are on the short list, which was made during discussions in executive session.

The full board could opt to bring in finalists for interviews or seek more information on candidates. School board members could also decide to make their choice right away.

Board Chairman Garrett Toguchi said he expects the BOE will select a permanent superintendent by mid-October at the latest.

He said he "wasn't disappointed" with the field of applicants, though he didn't want to predict what the full board will do tomorrow.

"It's wide open," Toguchi said.

Though the names of the applicants have not been released, at least one is known: Kathryn Matayoshi has been serving as interim superintendent since January, after longtime Superintendent Pat Hamamoto resigned on New Year's Eve. Matayoshi is seeking the permanent position.

Matayoshi guided the state Department of Education through its successful bid for $75 million in competitive Race to the Top funds and has been praised for her efforts to improve DOE communications with the community.

Some have raised concerns, however, about her lack of an education background.

Matayoshi has a law degree and, before joining the DOE as a deputy superintendent in 2009, she was executive director of the Hawaii Business Roundtable.

Whoever steps into the DOE's top job will take on a system going through sweeping changes, with federal Race to the Top funds aimed at turning around low-performing schools, improving teacher effectiveness and boosting student achievement kicking off many of those reforms.

The new superintendent will also inherit a department grappling with budget cuts, struggling to meet federal directives and still recovering from shaken public confidence generated by teacher furloughs.

The Hawaii Department of Education is the nation's 10th-largest public school system, with a $1.7 billion operating budget, 289 schools, about 178,000 students and 11,500 teachers.

The superintendent job pays up to $150,000.

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