Mizuno Azinga, Global Educator, testified that the cost effective method for heat abatement does not allow for the highest level of student achievement in Hawaii’s schools. Heat levels are not supposed to exceed 80 degrees for student performance; however Waianae reaches up to 90 degrees. Azinga shared statistics showing an increase in math scores with high ventilation and stated that the effects are similar with reading and science. Azinga stated that air conditioning would increase student performance.
Written testimony was also received and provided to the Committee Members. The following is a listing of the people that submitted written testimony before the testimony deadline.
|IV. A. Heat abatement program||Comment|
Amy Kunz, Senior Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, Office of Fiscal Services, presented standard reports, along with new utilities report reflecting information through December 31, 2015.
Ex Officio Committee Member Jim Williams arrived at 11:23 a.m.
The School food service fiscal report showed federal receipts and expenditures are on track and are continuously monitored to stay within the Legislature’s appropriation. Kunz clarified that the negative number in the federal funds column is due to receipts being lower than expended funds. Kunz said that this is due to reimbursement timing, not diminished participation in school lunch, and would catch up later.
Kunz stated student transportation is on track as well. The Department is monitoring balances, and there is an encumbrance fund that needs to be cleared.
Committee Member Amy Asselbaye asked if student transportation expenditures qualify for reimbursement from potential Medicaid funds. Kunz replied that the Department of Education (“Department”) has a Medicaid reimbursement team working in it; however, it is a slow process. The Medicaid reimbursements are based on eligible students receiving services. The money would potentially be a part of special funding, but that is yet to be determined.
Committee Member Don Horner directed attention to student transportation for Fiscal Year 2016 where allotments/revenues with an allocation of $716,708 to payroll and a drop of 30% in special funds. Kunz explained that it was due to collective bargaining increases as well as timing. Kunz stated that the Department anticipates additional special funds through additional rider collections.
Committee Vice Chairperson De Lima asked if the Department is still working with a consultant to address issues with student transportation. Kunz replied yes; however, Kauai and Maui will not move to new contracts until the Department has calculated the financial savings. Carlson added the new contracts have been revised to include requirements, such as data collection.
Committee Member Don Horner noted that student transportation has been a perennial challenge, but it has never been in better shape and the Board has not received huge complaints in this area.
Kunz presented the new utilities report and asked for feedback on the report. Kunz stated that the top block displayed appropriations and restrictions, showing a $4 million restriction for the current year and a $31 million allotment for the past six months. Below, there is a breakdown by object code, vendor, and expenditure. The further breakdown of expenditures shows usage by month. The year-to-year usage is increasing, but there are dollar reductions due to low oil costs. The utility budget and cost of oil will be monitored and reports to the Board will continue on a quarterly basis.
Committee Member Horner asked what would be done with a $4 million surplus. Kunz explained depending on legislative appropriations, the money could possibly be encumbered. The Department is asking for $9 million for next fiscal year, and it will encumber the surplus if it does not receive the full amount requested.
Kunz added the Department recently received a $30 million Federal impact aid payment, which will be reflected on the next report.
Committee Vice Chairperson De Lima asked what the Federal impact aid budget is for 2015. Kunz replied that the budget is $40-$45 million, and the Department tried to reduce the appropriation ceiling from $50 million. The monies received this year will go towards next year’s impact aid commitments of payments for substitute teacher costs.
Committee Vice Chairperson De Lima asked how the $55 million in the substitute teacher account would be appropriated. Kunz replied that the funding is allocated to substitutes centrally, and it covers EDN 100, school-based expenses, and EDN 150 special education substitutes. Any excess funds are used for shortfall areas.
Committee Member Horner suggested the extra funding be pushed out to schools to improve percentage of funds given to schools under the Weighted Student Formula.
B. Update on the Department of Education’s heat abatement program: progress since January 19, 2016, update of filings with the Public Utilities Commission, and update on Executive Branch’s plan to use Green Energy Marketing Securitization (“GEMS”) to cool 1,000 classrooms by the end of 2016
Dann Carlson reported that 359 portables have been covered with reflective coating and fans. The Department has been preparing to install air conditioning at Aiea Elementary. The Laie community has embraced passive cooling measures, and volunteers are helping to install insulation and reflective coating for the school. The Department has accepted donations from NextEra for photovoltaic air conditioned cooling of 27 classrooms. The HECO has proposed “time of use” rates, which if approved by the Public Utilities Commission, would allow the Department to receive a discounted rate for daytime usage. The Department is not adding air conditioning where it does not need to. The Department has covered 32 schools with six teams broken up into different areas. Finding resources has proven to be the biggest challenge in cooling Hawaii’s public schools. There are bills in the Legislature regarding the Governor’s initiative to cool 1,000 classrooms and allowing the Department to use $100,000,000 of green energy market securitization financing. Since it is a green initiative, the decrease in usage and amount of money saved will need to be tracked.
C. Update on the Department of Education’s fiscal empowerment workgroup
Kunz reported that the fiscal empowerment group is comprised of leaders from the state office, complex area, and school sites. There were two 4-hour meetings in December facilitated by the Harold H. K. Castle Foundation. The meetings covered a broad range of topics, including curriculum and instruction, and Department leaders listened to the field. Kunz presented challenges to fiscal empowerment, including defensive systems, inadequate funds, balancing innovation and knowledge, and an environment of many authorities.
Kunz reported that two big items the fiscal empowerment group discussed were food services and special education flexibilities. A principal with a preparation and serving cafeteria may have the opportunity to gain flexibility by being their own food authority. There is a potential to limit loss of federal funds and serve healthier more localized meals. Also discussed were special education funds. Currently, special education funding goes to districts as position counts. In pursuit of increased flexibility, districts could drop the value of positions not filled and convert the funding for positions they do need. The challenge is that EDN 100 and 150 are not interchangeable and funds must be used properly.
Ex Officio Committee Member Jim Williams suggested making the presentation available for other principals who are not involved in the workgroup.
Ex Officio Committee Member Hubert Minn expressed concern that there were only seven principals involved and mentioned an invitation sent out with a very quick feedback turnaround. Kunz explained that the turnarounds have been tight because of a scheduling issue and clarified that the conversation has broadened from the original fiscal empowerment.
Committee Member Asselbaye asked who is managing the project and how communication will be improved. Kunz replied that she is taking the lead with support from the Superintendent. As the process continues, there are weekly emails for Complex Area Superintendents and collective quarterly information for creative ideas. Committee Member Asselbaye asked if the Office of Strategy, Innovation, and Performance (“OSIP”) is involved. Committee Member Asselbaye stated that OSIP should be a major part of building innovation and mindset. Kunz confirmed that OSIP has been involved and participated in the meetings.
Committee Vice Chairperson De Lima expressed frustration that the focus of the workgroup was to give principals more flexibility over limited resources when they really need more resources to be innovative leaders at the school level. Committee Vice Chairperson De Lima stated that principals need money to do good work. He asked if parents and the School Community Councils have been spoken to in regards to special education and stated that doing pilot projects instead of putting money towards resources perpetuates the problem. Committee Vice Chairperson De Lima stated that the group is well-intended but on the wrong track.
Ex Officio Committee Member Minn stated an issue that arose at a recent empowerment conference is that teachers did not know how to define empowerment. Ex Officio Committee Member Minn stated that the Department should be meeting with principals and asking them what they need to help them do their jobs better. The Board needs to show that it is concerned about Hawaii’s schools.
Committee Member Horner stated that the issue is bigger than the strategic plan and there are gaps between what principals are saying and doing. There will be no success if principals are not on the same page. Committee Member Horner stated there needs to be a more formal process of defining empowerment. This is a critical topic that needs to rise to the top, and principals need to be engaged in a constructive, meaningful way.
D. Update on the Department of Education’s operating budget restriction for Fiscal Year 2015-2016
The Governor released a 5% ($4.8 million) contingency restriction to the Department. The Department is returning funds to areas assessed, keeping $1.4 million on hold due to a processing issue with the Department of Budget and Finance.
E. Update on status of, process, and timeline for Committee review of Board policies presently assigned to the Committee
The memo was circulated with no questions or discussion.
|500.1||Organization of the Department|
|500.2||Plan of Organization|
|Senate Bill (“SB”) |
|RELATING TO A MICROGRID PILOT PROJECT FOR SCHOOLS. Requires the department of education to establish an off-grid microgrid pilot project through the Ka Hei program at a school of its choosing.|
|SB 2536||RELATING TO WHEELING FOR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS. Authorizes state educational institutions to utilize wheeling to transmit renewable energy generated electricity to themselves at other locations, and requires the public utilities commission and electric utilities to adopt rules and tariffs consistent with the wheeling mandate.|
|SB 2605||RELATING TO NET ENERGY METERING FOR SCHOOLS. Clarifies the requirements for the department of education to qualify for net energy metering. Prohibits the PUC from amending the rate structure or excess electricity credits and credit carry over terms applicable to the DOE for net energy metering. Clarifies definition of eligible customer-generator.|
|SB 3126/HB 2726||RELATING TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS. To provide for air conditioning, heat abatement and related energy efficiency measures at public schools by authorizing a loan from the green infrastructure loan program to the departments of education and budget and finance, and making appropriations for expenditure of the borrowed funds, additional capital improvements and the initial loan repayment.|
|House Bill (“HB”) |
|RELATING TO ENERGY. Requires the DOE to: (1) establish a goal of becoming net-zero with respect to energy use by 1/1/2035; (2) establish microgrid pilot projects at two public schools that are civil defense shelters; and (3) expedite the cooling of all public school classrooms to a temperature acceptable for student learning. Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds for the implementation of cooling measures in public school classrooms.|