Student Achievement Committee Chairperson Patricia Halagao reported that the committee received a presentation from the Department on the NGSS framework, how NGSS standards incorporate crosscutting concepts for teaching science and engineering, and how these teaching standards complement others such as Common Core and Comprehensive Student Support System. The Committee also received a presentation regarding the Department’s academic score card as it pertains to the Department and Board’s joint strategic plan’s Goal 1, student success. This presentation was provided an orientation and the Department is planning to present information on results for the 2014-2015 school year at the Board’s September 15, 2015 General Business Meeting. The Student Achievement Committee also provided an update on the status, process, and timeline for the Committee to review Board policies presently assigned to the SAC committee, which included a listing of policies the committee will consider on October 6, 2015. The committee also received a presentation on the C3 social studies framework, which will be presented to the full Board at the next General Business Meeting on September 15, 2015. The Student Achievement Committee also approved a motion to recommend that the Board approve the proposed revisions to Board Policy 101.7, School Climate and Discipline, which will be discussed later on the agenda.
B. Board Student Representative’s Report: August Hawaii State Student Council meeting, TheBus schedules for student riders
Board Student Representative Brennan Lee, gave an update on HSSC’s meeting on August 15, 2015. This was the first student council meeting of the school year where they established an executive committee and elected a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson person, and a Secretary, and focus groups on various issues.
Dann Carlson, Assistant Superintendent, Office of School Facilities and Support Services, gave an update on the Department’s heat abatement program. The Department acknowledged that classrooms are extremely hot and that it is addressing the issue. Every year the Department request funding from the Legislature as part of its budget appropriations process and also includes line items for specific projects in which air conditioning systems are required.
Funding for heat abatement is included as part of the Capital Improvement Program (“CIP”) Key Performance Indicator (“KPI”) for Equity. In Fiscal Year 2015, the Department requested $90 million in the Equity KPI and was appropriated $15 million. That $15 million must be split with other competing programs within the Equity KPI, such as special education and science facility upgrades.
As part of the heat abatement program, the Department has created a school priority list. These schools were identified by using scientific data on the temperatures in each classroom. The Department is also assessing the electrical capacity of schools. Some school buildings are over 50 years old and do not have the electrical capacity to support new air conditioning systems (on top of the electricity already being used to support new technology introduced into the school). Electrical updates are being done as funding becomes available. The Department has a separate running list of schools that need electrical updates. Additionally, some schools were designed to take advantage of air flow and in order to efficiently install air conditioning units, schools need to be made as airtight as possible.
Board Member Williams returned at 2:02 p.m.
Carlson highlighted that sustaining the life cycle of an air conditioning unit, meaning the cost in operating and maintaining the units, is a big factor. He used the example of a school which saw a drastic increase in its monthly utility bill, from $6,000 a month to $14,000 per month with after air conditioning units were installed. The Department estimates its electricity bill will be $47.6 million this year.
The Department is addressing heat abatement in an effective and sustainable manner by looking at alternatives such as photovoltaic air conditioning systems and solar power ventilators. The Department is also open to receiving A/C donations from the community and asks that if anyone wants to donate to refer to the Heat Abatement Program air conditioning donation instructions on the Department’s website and to get in touch with the principal of the school to which they want to donate.
The Department is trying to do the right thing, get through their school priority list, and to make sure they are also being fiscally responsible by looking at alternatives first. Carlson agreed Rosenlee regarding identifying a pilot school for a specific air conditioning plan and is interested in talking with him further.
Board Vice Chairperson De Lima commented that it is significant to understand that there are projects that have been completed, to note that there is an air conditioning priority list of schools, and to recognize that there are alternatives to get a handle on costs. However, there was no mention of a specific timetable for the implementation of the program’s priority list and we are getting to the point where we need a plan with a timeline.
Board Vice Chairperson De Lima recommended that the Department take the following steps: consider Rosenlee’s presentation in which he suggests assessing the schools’ electrical capacity, complete the survey of the priority list of schools, gather feedback from students and HSTA about the priority list, come up with a budgetary figure (specifically for the priority list) to take to the Legislature, and come up with a plan to get through the air conditioning needs on the priority list of schools. Board Vice Chairperson De Lima also acknowledged that the Department has been addressing heat abatement for a while and recommends a plan with alternatives.
Carlson responded that the Department is currently working on its supplemental budget request for funding, which will be submitted to the Legislature. Board Vice Chairperson De Lima followed up by asking the Department to share this with the head of the HSTA as well and to see if they can round up more support.
Board Member Williams asked Carlson if he knew why the Department’s allocation was significantly lower than their request under CIP moneys (i.e. only received $15 million of the $90 million requested) and if they were given any feedback or explanation. Carlson responded that he did not have that information at this time.
Board Member Williams asked why Waianae School is not listed in the heat abatement program’s school priority list given that it is usually hot in the Waianae region. Carlson responded that he will have to get back to the Board on this. Superintendent Matayoshi commented that some schools — as part of school improvement plan — received ceiling fans, including schools in the Nanakuli and Waianae regions. While this measure is not enough, this may contribute to the reason why Waianae is not on the list but the Department can confirm this and get back to the Board.
Board Member Williams asked if there has been some kind of heat abatement efforts made at each of the priority schools listed, which Carlson confirmed. Board member Williams further commented that there is an equity issue with schools who have air conditioning and those that do not. Williams then followed up by asking whether the Department is treating the heat as a highly urgent situation.
Matayoshi responded that Carlson and his staff are giving this program a significant amount of time and are allocating funding as available to as many projects as they can. They are also making every effort to see if they can order 100 more portable AC units; however, they are struggling with the market as units seem to be out of stock and are waiting for more to become available. In the meantime, they are getting out to the schools to install ceiling fans according to what the Department can afford at this time. The Department also continues to look ahead at solar powered options.
Board Member William commented that public response does not give the impression that the Department is prioritizing the heat abatement program. Often times in the media the first message that the Department delivers is how much it is going to cost and the sense of urgency is lost. The Department should ensure the public knows that addressing heat issues in the schools is indeed a priority for the Department.
Board Member Amy Asselbaye asked if there is an intersection between the heat abatement priority list and the Ka Hei program to which Carlson responded yes but that there some limitations of roof space at some schools. Board Member Asselbaye commented that the Department is behind and that going down the priority list to address heat abatement at each school is not enough and agrees that a timeline should be set in place.
Student Representative Brennan Lee commented that as a student he knows that classrooms get hot and this distracts from learning. He would like to have air conditioning in all classrooms, but worries about the utility costs.
Board Chairperson Mizumoto asked how much of the $15 million dollars appropriated to the Department in Fiscal Year 2015 was used for heat abatement. Carlson responded that of the $15 million dollars appropriated about $2 million to $3 million is left for heat abatement initiatives.
Board Chairperson Mizumoto also asked about the Department’s efforts to work with teachers and students to leverage support as it cannot take on the heat abatement issue alone. Carlson responded that the Department is informing the public about the option of donating air conditioning units and they have a process to reach out to the community. He agreed that more effort can be made to fully partner with the community through associations, businesses, and other groups. Board Chairperson Mizumoto followed up by commenting that the schools do not seem to have enough information about the Department’s timeframe for progress and what to expect down the road.
Lastly, Board Chairperson Mizumoto asked where the Department stands in terms of the Thermal Flushing Technology pilot and what result they expect from the pilot. Carlson responded that they are at the installation point right now and can provide a detailed breakdown of the project thus far. Board Chairperson Mizumoto asked the Department to let them know when the pilot will be completed and when to expect an outcome report.
Board Chairperson Mizumoto stated that heat abatement was a priority asked that this issue be delegated to the Finance and Infrastructure Committee to pursue and that the Department follow up with the committee with heat abatement timeline and updates.
Marcia Linville, Education Caucus for the Democratic Party of Hawaii, informed the board that the Education Caucus met with Senate representatives about introducing legislation on heat abatement in the schools; members of the Senate promised they would support such legislation and asked the Board to thank them for their attention to this matter.
ACTION: Motion to approve Student Achievement Committee’s recommendation that the Board approve the revised policy as described in the memorandum dated September 1, 2015 and the recommendation that the Board grant the Department 90 days to present to the Board an implementation plan for this policy. The motion was approved with seven in favor (Asselbaye, Chun, De Lima, Halagao, Minn, Mizumoto, Williams) and one opposed (Cox).
B. Board Action on assignment of two Board members to the employer negotiating team to engage in collective bargaining on behalf of the Board with: (1) Hawaii State Teachers Association, Bargaining Unit 5, and (2) Hawaii Government Employees Association, Bargaining Unit 6
Board Chairperson Mizumoto proposed action on this agenda item be deferred. There was no objection.
C. Board Action on Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Ethics Commission”) decision regarding teacher travel and designation of Board members to an investigative committee (a permitted interaction group pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 92-2.5(b)(1)), concerning Ethics Commission decision and finding a solution that allows educational travel opportunities for students and teacher participation
Leslie Kondo, Executive Director, Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Ethics Commission”), gave a presentation on the Ethic Commission’s decision regarding teacher travel in the case of King Intermediate School. Kondo identified the Ethics Commission’s Chairperson, Susan DeGuzman, who was in the audience. Kondo clarified the Ethics Commission’s position regarding the structure used for student travel and teacher participation when free trips were involved and explained how the state Ethics Code applied to the facts, specifically conflicts of interest. He mentioned that there were approximately 22 pending trips with similar structures. He clarified that the Ethics Commission stated that it was unable to waive state law, so it would not be able to issue a waiver for travel that has not occurred.
Board Vice Chairperson De Lima stated that he appreciated that the Ethics Commission’s chairperson was at the Board meeting and stated the current structure is questionable and he would support a different structure that would take the teacher out of the selection process. Board Vice Chairperson De Lima posed different scenarios that Kondo considered. Kondo stated that the bottom line is that the Ethics Commission wants students to travel and teachers to assist without violating state law.
Matayoshi informed the Board that the Department is currently working with Ethics Commission staff to find a solution and develop guidance on student travel.
Board Member Williams and Kondo discussed communication between the Ethics Commission and the Department, the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction, voting on the Ethics Commission’s decision and the Department’s request for a waiver, whether the Ethics Commission would be willing to provide advice, and the process for finding a solution.
Board Chairperson Mizumoto asked Kondo whether legislative action (amending statute) is an option. Kondo replied that statute can be amended, but that it was not necessary because the issue can be addressed through policy and that he believed that there was a practical solution. Board Chairperson Mizumoto stated that he sensed there was a stalemate regarding how to address the issue and that the atmosphere was contentious and was not improving. He would like to entertain a motion to create an investigative committee.
ACTION: Motion to designate Board Vice Chairperson De Lima, Board Member Asselbaye, and Board Member Minn as members of the investigative committee investigating the Ethics Commission’s decision and finding a solution that allows educational travel opportunities for students and teacher participation and to provide a report to the Board no later than 60 days from September 1, 2015 (De Lima/Minn). The minutes were approved as circulated and unanimously with all members present voting aye.
Matayoshi commented that the Department can present a draft of the Department policy to the investigative committee. The Department wants to resolve the issue quickly so as to not impact other school trips.
Board Chairperson Mizumoto made it clear that all stakeholders have to find a solution together.