Gov. Linda Lingle on Tuesday afternoon announced the state has reached an agreement to end school closures on furlough days next year.
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Hawaii public school students lost 17 instructional days during this school year. They could have lost another 17 in the school year that begins in September unless a deal was struck between Lingle, the Department of Education and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
Earlier the department and the teachers union agreed to spend $67 million that the Legislature allocated to eliminate future furlough days. Lingle has said she is unwilling to spend more than $57 million.
"The bottom line is the furloughs are over," Lingle announced.
On Tuesday, Lingle said she will release the $57.2 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund plus an additional $2.2 million in federal funds for charter schools. She said the teachers will also give up six planning days.
In order to make up the final $10 million, Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism Director Ted Liu helped get some of Hawaii's major state banks will give a $10 million line of credit at no interest to the Department of Education.
But there are restrictions on how the money can be spent.
"It can't be to directly pay for salaries," Lingle stressed.
"Nobody wanted school furloughs, but there was an economic reality," Acting state Schools Superintendent Kathyrn Matayoshi said. "Creatively, I think, we have reached that solution that we can move forward on ending school furloughs."
Parents of groups who protested the furloughs this past school year were present at the announcement. Lingle said a meeting with parents and educators last week helped spur the deal to end the school closures. Lingle said however, she had no plans to pardon the parents who were arrested during a sit-in to protest the Furlough Fridays.