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Bill approval gives governor control over BOE appointments

By Mary Vorsino

LAST UPDATED: 07:30 p.m. HST, Mar 03, 2011

The Senate this afternoon unanimously approved a fast-tracked bill setting up the process under which the governor will appoint a new Board of Education.

Senate Bill 8 now heads to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who plans to sign it into law March 14.

State Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, said the bill reflects voters’ strong support in November of an appointed board.

“In November, the people spoke. We have listened,” Tokuda said, before the Senate floor vote today. “SB 8 creates a process that will give the people the kind of accountability they asked for.”

Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in November switching to an appointed BOE; members are now elected. Members to the new, appointed board can’t be chosen for the new board until legislation spelling out how candidates will be picked becomes law.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has pledged to act quickly to select a new board.

Senate Bill 8 calls for direct governor appointments, with Senate confirmation.

Under the bill:

>> The appointed BOE will have nine members, not counting a student and a military representative, both non-voting representatives.

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

>> Appointed members will serve three-year terms. However, in order to stagger  terms, three members chosen for the first appointed board will have one-year terms and three will have two-year terms.

>> Members may serve no more than three consecutive three-year terms.

>> The governor will have to ensure that BOE members meet minimum qualifications, including a “record of integrity,” knowledge of best practices and a “commitment to educational leadership.”

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