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Sunday, July 27, 2014         

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State House OKs bill for appointing BOE members

The governor would be able to choose without an advisory council

By Mary Vorsino

POSTED:



A fast-tracked bill setting up the process for appointing a Board of Education is expected to get to the governor's desk as early as next week.

The full House yesterday unanimously approved Senate Bill 8, which heads back to the Senate for a final vote, tentatively set for March 3.

"It's an important bill. It's a long-overdue bill," House Minority Leader Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai) told members yesterday before the House vote.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has pledged to act quickly to appoint new members, once the measure is signed into law, and has already announced one of his appointees: First Hawaiian Bank Board Chairman and CEO Don Horner.

Horner, who was appointed to the elected board Feb. 8 to fill a vacancy, will also be nominated to the new appointed board.

Voters overwhelmingly supported switching to an appointed BOE in November, but members can't be chosen for the new board until legislation spelling out how candidates will be picked becomes law.

The bill that passed the House yesterday would give the governor the power to appoint BOE members without candidates first being vetted by an advisory council.

Appointees will be confirmed by the Senate.

Also under the bill:

» The appointed BOE would have nine members, not counting a student and a military representative, compared with 13 on the current elected board. (A separate bill that would give the BOE's student member a vote is before the House.)

» There would be three at-large members, along with three from Oahu and one each from Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.

» Members chosen to sit on the new board must be selected by June 30, though the governor is expected to start appointing members earlier.

» The governor would have to ensure BOE members meet minimum qualifications, including a "record of integrity," knowledge of best practices and governing complex organizations, and a "commitment to educational leadership."

State Rep. Roy Takumi (D, Pearl City-Pacific Palisades), chairman of the House Education Committee, said the guidelines for BOE members are aimed at providing a "road map" to the governor for appointments.

The BOE bill has moved quickly through the Legislature despite early concerns the measure could be held up over disagreements about whether members should be vetted by an advisory council. Some argued an advisory council would provide a system of checks and balances for BOE appointments.

A measure passed by the Legislature last year — which included an advisory council — was vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle.

Abercrombie has said he supports appointment without an advisory council.






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