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Lingle defends education stimulus fund decisions

MEDIA RELEASE

Gov. Linda Lingle issued the following statement in response to comments made by an appointed member of a State legislative committee criticizing Hawaii’s use of federal stimulus funds. The committee meeting Tuesday was a clumsily disguised event to criticize the Administration a week before state elections.

“Eighteen months ago, I committed to invest all of the $35 million in discretionary federal stimulus funds to improve public education in Hawaii. The funds benefited important science programs that directly help public school students, such as the Hawaii State Science Olympiad, the Hawaii State Science Fair, and the Challenger Space Center.

“Children in every middle and high school will have the opportunity to participate in a robotics education program thanks to this funding. The Kaiser High School Complex will be able to implement the International Baccalaureate Program. Charter schools will work to meet national accreditation standards and ensure that all of their classroom teachers are highly qualified.

“These funds will also help over 17,000 students who are not meeting adequate yearly progress standards by offering extended afterschool learning opportunities and intensive summer school programs.

“The strategic investments we made to benefit public school children helped Hawaii win an additional $75 million in federal Race to the Top funds.”

Governors were given broad discretion by the federal government to spend this stimulus money on any State programs such as prisons or housing.

Lingle’s commitment to use these funds for specific education priorities was made prior to the agreement by the BOE, DOE and HSTA to implement furloughs on school days.

Diverting these funds would have jeopardized Hawaii’s chance for Race to the Top funds and would have rewarded the bad decision to reduce instructional time.

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