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Thursday, April 17, 2014         

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Appointed BOE becomes state law

More than 100 people already have applied for nine seats that will be picked by April 1

By Mary Vorsino

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More than 100 people have applied to serve on the appointed Board of Education, whose nine members the governor will select over the next three weeks.

At a ceremony yesterday at Washington Place, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law the bill giving him the power to directly appoint BOE members.

He encouraged even more people to apply to serve.

"The object of this (change) ... is to restore public confidence in the public school system," he said. "This paves the way, I hope, for a new era for public education. As a governor, I am accountable for what takes place in our public schools."

Legislators fast-tracked the measure that establishes the appointment process for the Board of Education, and the governor has also pledged to work quickly to choose new members.

Abercrombie said yesterday he plans to whittle down applicants for the board by April 1 and will announce his picks all at once.

Appointees must be confirmed by the Senate.

The push to switch to an appointed board from an elected one was prompted by the anger over teacher furloughs last school year that left Hawaii students with the shortest instructional calendar in the nation.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in November to get rid of BOE elections and let the governor choose who sits on the board.

But a new BOE could not be appointed until legislation setting up the process of filling board seats was signed into law.

Hawaii has had an elected BOE since 1966.

Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said she's looking forward to working with the new board on a host of planned reforms for Hawaii schools.

NEW SCHOOL BOARD

» Members will be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
» Board picks will be announced by April 1.
» The new BOE will have nine members (down from 13), including three at-large.
» Members will serve three-year terms.
» To apply for the board, go to www.hawaii.gov/gov.

She added that new BOE members should have a "commitment to public education and the willingness to understand the challenges we're facing."

The BOE is charged with hiring a schools superintendent and setting policy for the Department of Education, which runs the ninth-largest public school system in the nation — and its only statewide one.

State Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, said the governor has a "tough job ahead of him" in choosing applicants for the board.

"The governor is going to sit down and look at all nine of his appointees holistically" to determine how they'll work together as a board, she said.

The law signed yesterday says the governor should ensure BOE members meet several qualifications, including a "record of integrity," knowledge of best practices and a "commitment to educational leadership."

When asked what he wants to see in appointees, Abercrombie said, "If you look at what's there in the bill, it summarizes very, very well exactly what I'm looking for."

The appointed BOE will have three at-large members, along with three from Oahu and one each from Kauai, Maui and Hawaii island.

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

The governor has already announced one of his appointees: Don Horner, First Hawaiian Bank chairman and chief executive officer.

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






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