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DOE's own experts to help schools

By Beverly Creamer

The Department of Education rather than outside contractors will provide the extra help needed by new schools headed into restructuring, or state takeover, in the coming year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The switch from outside talent to Hawai'i-based expertise could save the DOE millions of dollars. The state is spending about $9 million this year for three private education companies to help 20 of 24 struggling schools already under state oversight.

An additional 18 schools face restructuring in the coming year based on the most recent standardized test results. Four additional schools will continue to plan for restructuring and six more are beginning to plan for it, according to the DOE.

"There will be a savings," said Kathy Kawaguchi, who heads the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support for the department. "Now that we're through one year (of restructuring) we understand there are strengths in our schools. (We will look for) where are the needs and target those areas."

By using DOE experts rather than outside help, the hope is to trim expenses and better target the needs of individual schools whose latest scores have failed to advance sufficiently to meet federal and local mandates.

Board of Education member Mary Cochran applauded the department's decision.

"We can't come up with millions of dollars every year," Cochran said. "We've got the talent here. We have to get away from the missionary principle (of bringing in outsiders) and getting canned programs."

Cochran noted that there have been some major successes, particularly in Windward schools, using homegrown help both from within the department and from other community resources.

"From now on state teams will be trained to go in and work with schools, much like accreditation teams," said Sharon Nakagawa, administrator of the DOE's special programs management section. "We need to develop our system, to develop an array of services, so we're looking at how to do this.

"Is there a model we can create for the state? If we build the capacity to do that, that's $9 million saved."


— Beverly Creamer
Honolulu Advertiser


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