It looks like the unorganized joke that we all call the Hawaii Department of Education has reared its ugly, unorganized head again. The DOE is now asking for an additional $58 million for operating costs during the 2012-2013 school year. Really? $58 million? That is how far apart we are in budget planning?
The funding request for the 2012-13 school year was revealed last week as the department looks to get a handle on the effects of years of budget cuts — and in the wake of a report that Hawaii has had some of the deepest per-pupil funding reductions in the nation. The additional funding is said to be needed to keep school buses running, save adult education and cope with a growing student population.
Board of Education members have raised concerns about the state of the department’s finances, pointing out during a recent meeting that the picture could worsen in the coming fiscal year as federal stimulus grants run out.
Wesley Lo, chairman of the BOE Finance and Infrastructure Committee, said Thursday that some DOE programs may have to weather more cuts or be eliminated altogether so that others can be preserved.
“We may be at the point of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Lo said. “Once you reach that tipping point, all of a sudden it’s real dramatic. It starts falling apart. I think we’re awfully close to that.”
While it is indeed tough to plan for education spending in Hawaii, as a recently released study from the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, concluded that Hawaii had the nation’s second-largest decrease in per-pupil spending from 2008 to 2011. Even with this though, $58 million in additional spending is hard to fathom. It is not like asking for a few million more, the budget is so far off what the state wants to give, that you can’t help but think that this is just terrible planning. How many more things will go up in price?
What the Additional Funding is Being Requested For
The Department of Education is asking for additional funding in its supplemental budget request for the 2012-13 school year:
School bus service
Currently appropriated: $28.5 million DOE seeking: $42 million
Adult education programs
Currently appropriated: $0 DOE seeking: $2.5 million
Currently appropriated: $740 million DOE seeking: Additional $13.6 million
Source: Department of Education