Proposed DOE biennium budget preserves school funds, boosts technology


Investments in strategic reforms and school-level funding remain priority areas to support educators and accelerate student achievement.

​​​​​​​HONOLULU – Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi today presented the Hawaii State Department of Education's (DOE) 2015-17 Fiscal Biennium (FB) budget request, which focuses on investments in strategic reforms and basic school operations. More than 94 percent of the proposed budget request goes directly to fund school-level operations.

The proposed budget aims to provide the most benefit to students by preserving school funds for core instruction and enhancing technology. At a presentation before the Hawaii State Board of Education's (BOE) Finance and Infrastructure Committee, Matayoshi reiterated that state funding for education has remained stagnant for the last seven years. The chart below reflects the flat budget despite a steady increase in the Consumer Price Index, as well as collective bargaining increases.​


Since starting reform efforts four years ago, the DOE is in the midst of executing its strategic plan to transform public education system to ensure graduates are prepared for success in college or careers.

Matayoshi noted, "Despite the flat budget, we have managed to increase school-level Weighted Student Formula funding, and our schools have performed extremely well over the last few years."

Each request falls into one of two major categories: "Basic Operations" or "Strategic Investments." Basic Operations expenditures include health and safety, compliance, facilities, staffing and employee benefits. Strategic Investments will enhance the capacity of the public school system to improve student success, staff success and ensure successful systems of support. Among the largest requests in Fiscal Years (FY) 2016 and 2017 are:

Basic Operations:       

  • $10.4 million to maintain the Weighted Student Formula's per-pupil funding in response to projected increases in student enrollment.  ($2.4 million in FY16 and $8 million in FY17).
  • $25.7 million for school utilities such as electricity, water, gas and sewer. ($12.8 million for FY16 and $12.9 million for FY17).
  • $28.3 million to partially restore general fund support for the delivery of school meals that comply with federal quality and nutritional guidelines. ($9.9 million for FY15, $9.1 million for FY16 and $9.3 million for FY17).
  • $27.4 million for student bus transportation services. ($9.3 million for FY15, $7.4 million for FY16 and $10.7 million for FY17). The anticipated FY 2016 general fund appropriation of $53 million for student transportation is approximately $20 million lower than expenses in 2011-12, thanks to recent reforms to cut costs and increase efficiency.
  • $6.8 million ($3.4 million in each of the biennium years) for skilled nursing services to students, aged three to 22, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
    The population and needs of eligible students requiring skilled nursing services have been steadily increasing, as well as the cost to provide such services.
  • $4 million ($2 million in each year) for workers' compensation benefits.

Strategic Investment:

  • To assist and empower educators with professional learning opportunities and accelerate progress toward universal access for all students to digital devices, the DOE is seeking $12.4 million in FY16 and $18.4 million in FY17 to embark on a digital-centered teaching and learning program called Future Ready Learning. The program scales a 1:1 technology strategy for schools across the state, based on lessons learned and feedback from the 1:1 Access Learning digital device pilot. Access Learning has helped reduce burden on teachers, increase student engagement and responsibility, and improve parents' support of public schools, according to a report released this summer. The request will help fund technology of up to $500 per device for schools identified as ready, as well as prepare educators and schools for Future Ready Learning. The positions will also provide targeted, job embedded professional development and support to schools.
  • $1.9 million in each of the biennium years for the Achieve3000 reading program at each of the DOE's 255 schools. Students using Achieve3000 continue to perform more than one-and-a-half times above the expected reading growth as measured by Lexiles. Lexiles measure either an individual's reading ability or the difficulty of a text. 
  • $1.9 million in each of the biennium years for the creation of the Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance (OSIP) to ensure sound data quality, manage the longitudinal data system used by all schools, support strategic planning and performance management.
  • $1 million for the Strive HI awards, which are financial incentive awards given to the top 5 percent of schools classified as "recognition" schools under the Strive HI Performance System, the DOE's federally approved school accountability and improvement system.
  • $498,120 per year to provide all students with the opportunity to take Advanced Placement (AP) college-level courses and exams, and earn "free" college credit or placement while still in high school. Taking AP courses increases eligibility for scholarships and makes candidates more attractive to colleges.

"This annual budget reflects input from the schools and complex area personnel from the field on the needs and priorities of the Department of Education and we fully support the schools and the effort to improve student achievement consistent with our strategic plan," said BOE Finance Committee Chairperson Brian De Lima.

Student success is at the core of the DOE's 2011-17 Strategic Plan. Over the past several years, student math and reading proficiency levels have climbed. Specifically, in "The Nation's 2013 Report Card" by the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), Hawaii's fourth- and eighth-graders proved to be among the nation's leaders when it comes to improved progress in mathematics and reading achievement. Last year also marked the first time Hawaii's fourth-graders surpassed the national average in mathematics.    

Enrollment, which dipped somewhat this year due to a change in the cutoff age for students to be eligible for kindergarten, is expected to increase over the biennium.

Detailed information about the Hawaii DOE biennium budget request for FY 2015-2017 is posted at

About the Hawaii State Department of Education

The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth-largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country.  It is comprised of 255 schools and 34 charter schools, and serves more than 180,000 students. King Kamehameha III established Hawaii's public school system in 1840. The DOE is in the midst of a range of historic efforts to transform its public education system to ensure graduates succeed in college or careers. To learn more, visit​

Contact Information

Donalyn Dela Cruz

Phone: 808-586-3232



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